Millennials march to a different beat, or is it different beats?

Posted On June 10, 2014

In a recent meeting, a high-level leader lamented the conundrum of managing the younger members of his team: “They want everything done so differently.”

Same complaint, different person. But then he continued…“Each one of them wants to be dealt with differently. So I can’t have a way that I manage; I have to have a way that I manage him, a way that I manage her, and another way that I manage the next person. It’s exhausting.”

And it can be. There are some similarities that cross personalities, and leaders certainly have the right to lay down some ground rules, but this individual hit on something true about the Millennial generation. They are very connected, but also very detached. They embrace individuality to a degree that no generation before them ever has.

While they do want to be liked and appreciated—these early adopters of social media crave peer validation—they want to be liked and appreciated for who they are, without labels, and without expectation. According to a March 2014 Pew Research study, they don’t readily choose political parties (50% are independents) and are increasingly non-committal about religion (30% are unaffiliated). They are also less committed to one another, with only 26% of Millennials married, compared to 36%, 48% and 65% of Gen Xers, Boomers and Matures when they were the same age (18 to 32 years old).

This desire to stand for themselves rather than follow status quo makes it difficult for traditional managers to find their way with Millennial employees. But, as I told the gentlemen at the meeting, ultimately they want to feel good about themselves and their contributions to the team. Figure out a way to do that in a way that is also authentic to you, and you’ll make the connection that makes everything else a little easier.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Work, Workplace