Managing millennials

A new generation of workers is conquering the workplace and at first sight, they are quite different than their predecessors. It is however the current generation of managers who will in their turn need to find ways to motivate and manage these newcomers. What we need for this, is a better understanding of what is important to the millennials, in order to create value where it matters most.

Managing millennials

Generation Y

For all of us, the times and society in which we grow up determine the way we look at life and influences what we want to achieve in our professional career.
This is how the babyboomers where aiming for a job for life and generation X was mainly looking to get ahead, making the shift to double income households.
The millennials, born in the 80’s to mid 90’s, have come of age alongside modern technology. These digital-natives are therefore very attached to their personal identity as they create and market it for themselves online. They are also used to have their needs met at an incredible speed and when not satisfied, they will not hesitate to voice their opinion. Obviously, when this concerns their job, they will not think twice to look for better elsewhere and quit. The main driver for this bright new generation is the intrinsic desire of doing something they like, which matches their personality and is meaningful to them.

Today's motivators

Where for lawyers, the typical motivators used to be their hunger for promotion, partnership in a firm or a prestigious lifestyle, the change in mind-set amongst the younger generation is slowly starting to trickle through. Cash alone is no longer king, millennials want ownership of their destiny. Due to their connected lifestyle and the high expectations that they put on themselves and their environment, generation Y is looking for ways to blow of some steam every now and then. Their realization of having to work beyond the age of 65 years, while staying optimistic about their career prospects, comes hand in hand with the value attached to life-long learning and the constant development of new skills.

To motivate today’s youngsters across all professions, an important driver will therefore be to offer them the possibility for progression (not necessarily promotion!) and flexibility.
Talented young individuals can be attracted and kept engaged by highlighting training, by showcasing and enabling cross-functional moves, as well as by reinventing recognition programs.

Authentic leaders

In short, to manage generation Y in a successful way, leaders are required to be genuinely interested in the person they are dealing with and take on a more active coaching or mentor role! Companies will thus be able to earn their workers’ loyalty and long-term commitment thanks to their authentic leaders.

The millennials’ search for a healthy balance between professional obligations and personal enjoyment, linked to corporate profitability, is already driving some major management changes and when indeed their desires are met by employers with an open mind and respect for every individual’s ambitions, this will ultimately end up being beneficial across industries and to workers of all ages out there!

Note: The use of the term “millennials” in this article refers to anyone born between 1980 and 1995.