How to manage millennials, according to a millennial

Here are some tips to improve intergenerational communication, straight from the source.

People who were born in the 1980s and 1990s are part of the millennial generation. They are typically individuals who understand digital communication and technology, and they are open to controversial topics (politics, gender, race, etc.). I’m in the millennial generation.

A lesson learned

In my first professional job, I was lucky to have had a wonderful boss, mentor and dad to help me understand the workplace. One of the first lessons I learned was to not jump to conclusions. In a world of information at the click of your mouse, this can be easy to do.

Was I irresponsible? No. Did I not research all the facts? No.

In fact, all of my research was spot-on, but I didn’t consider some of the historical viewpoints of a specific policy, procedure or existing thought process. Admittedly, I was missing an important piece of the puzzle. In my current position, this historical component can make up almost 50 percent of how someone presents, designs, or implements the project in the future.

If you notice that a millennial on your team is struggling, offer mentorship. Whether you are a Baby Boomer or millennial yourself, guiding a co-worker through some of your own personal “lessons learned” is a great way to show them the big picture.


Communication is another weak spot in the millennial generation. E-mail, instant messaging and social media are great, but they create havoc in our workplace relationships.

It’s easier to address conflict in an email, but solving the issue face to face is best, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. Solving sensitive problems through cyberspace could send an indirect message that you are passive, unassertive and maybe submissive. Not exactly the best qualities when you’re looking for a promotion.

Depending on your managerial style, communicating to a millennial can be a challenge. I’ve found that millennials thrive in fast-paced, positive and collaborative environments. If communication goes only one way, the millennial may start to resist. I don’t have any reason as to why this seems to be the case, but I think all communication efforts can be successful when you choose the correct words.

Here are some examples:

Manager: “You screwed up this project again.”
Offended millennial: “I quit.”

Manager: “How much longer until this project will be completed correctly?”
Sarcastic millennial: “However long it takes me.”

Manager: “Do you have a few minutes? I need you to talk me through your project so I can understand it better.”
Millennial: “When would you like to meet?”

The manager is sending the same message, but with three different delivery methods. I’m not suggesting that you sugarcoat everything, but I think this strategy holds merit from a managerial perspective.

‘Everyone is a winner’ syndrome

Yes, it’s true. Everyone earns a trophy these days, sometimes without even being particularly talented. I don’t write that to be insensitive—the individuals probably worked hard for the end result (assuming good intent). Be careful with the signs of this wicked syndrome, as you might have to go the extra mile to pay a few compliments to get the results you’re looking for.

Emily Chardac is a human resources and international business professional. She blogs at “They” Told Me to Call Human Resources, where this article originally ran.

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