Tips for Leading Millennial (Generation Y) Employees


To lead well, leaders must know who they’re leading, not only by names, but also the general characteristic as a group of people. Considering that Millennials make the largest generation in workforce these days, there is good chance that employees of this generation are among those under your leadership. While Millennials are often associated with several (stereotyped) negative attributes such as inclination to switch from one company to another and the reluctance to make long-term career decisions, they actually have more positive traits that make them excellent employees. Millennials are generally better at collaborating and they appreciate organizational transparency to name a few. Knowledge of their general behavioral tendencies should help you make better leadership decisions in dealing with this curious generation. Here are some steps every leader can take to improve Generation Y employees and optimize their performance for the benefits of organization.

 1    Observe First, Decide Next

Of course this is true with all employees no matter what generations they belong to. One thing that makes Generation Y different is how freedom of expression actually makes them more effective employees. The simplest example is regarding dress code. If previous generations want to look as sharp as possible during work hours so that they appear professionals and serious, not all Millennials feel the same about this.

It has become a seriously not so funny joke that Millennials just want to wear a t-shirt and jeans all the time (remember, stereotyping is never a good idea for any of us and can cause more harm than good if we don’t check our mental models), but for them this is more serious concern. Freedom of expression has a top spot in their perspective, even in workplace. This is not to say that you need to change organizational dress code just for employees of the generation, but letting them be themselves is the more pragmatic approach. At least give them the chance to prove their competency; if they get the job done without creating disturbances and hassles on your part, then the organization gets the benefits. Otherwise, they can always use your constructive feedback on where they go wrong.

 2.      Plan a Brainstorming Section

 Another stereotypical characteristic of Millennials is the eagerness to propose new ideas, innovate, and generally attempt to make workplace a better more conducive environment. The generation is comprised of people who believe that everyone has the right to give opinions on everything, even when they are told not to. Some people believe that Millennials think they know everything better than anybody else. And sometimes (but not always) it is right. Some of their ideas will sound ridiculous or even too radical that the organization will suffer great losses if implemented. However, this is only natural in any brainstorming section.

 Although you will not use all the big ideas they say, focus on smaller changes they propose. They will always find something to change and do such as new product packaging, advertisement pieces, social media marketing methods, 3D modeling design, and probably even the office layout. Remember that they thrive by thinking outside the box, and you can lead them to their best potentials by letting their ideas expressed.

 3.      Be Generous with Feedback

 Growing up in the world where information is available at an instant on their mobile devices, Millennials are well-accustomed to quick feedback. Thanks to their sometimes stubbornness with freedom of expression, they are usually open-minded when put on the receiving end of criticisms. As a matter of fact, many of them yearn for immediate responses as soon as a task or project is done.

 Make yourself available to them, so they can utilize their knowledge, talents, and determination better each time. Their presence – with all their shortcomings and somewhat radical perspective – can indeed create disruption at first. But with the right guidance, Millennials have all the potentials to be excellent performers. Remember, it is easy to place a stereotype on anyone. We each must learn to identify our own personal biases and recognize that our biases are reflected in how we interact with others. Nobody fits nicely into a single box. We each bring a little bit of our own culture into our workplaces. Smart leaders must get to know the preferences of each employee and should be flexible in how we manage each employee. Avoid stereotyping anyone and know that listening to understand things from the other person’s perspective can lead to more loyalty, greater job satisfaction for all involved, as well as potentially greater innovation, creativity, and teamwork!

Make good choices and have a great day! Only you get to choose how you feel about it!

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 Dr. Paul Gerhardt is a tenured professor of management. He is a diversity and leadership well-respected and trusted trainer who helps organizations get amazing returns on their training investment. Dr. Gerhardt is the author of several publications available on, including Diversity at Work, The Diversity King; Leadership Lucy and the Leadership Handbook. Consider inviting Dr. Paul Gerhardt to do customized leadership or diversity training at your organization. Most organizations find that diversity and leadership training by the right trainer yields a significant instant return on investment. You can get your FREE COPY of the Leadership Handbook by clicking this link:




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