I am often asked by managers for advice on how to manage Millennials. Many of them express frustration that the traditional management methods they used in the past are no longer effective. Why? It’s because Millennials are unlike any other generation that is currently in the workforce. They work differently, think differently, and have different expectations than the employees we have managed for years.

First of all, who are Millennials? Millennials were born between 1981-2000 and are often referred to as “Generation Next.” They are fiercely independent and value achievement, diversity, work/life balance, and open communication. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips, had a best friend named Google, and received recognition not just for winning, but for participating.

As for the workplace, they have very high expectations of company culture and see no value in negativity or conformity. Millennials do not just want to come to work, do their jobs, and go home. They want involvement, a sense of purpose and belonging, and personal development. It is important that they mold themselves into socially responsible and compassionate people, working to make a difference in whatever they do. Millennials see the workplace as a venue to achieve their own individual goals. It is this Millennial point of view that makes them so vastly different than the generations who precede them.

So the question is how to manage Millennials when they’re so different? The key is the ability to adapt your management approach to motivate and engage this group—to meet their needs. This means:

  • Creating informal, team-oriented workplaces that allow for creativity and collaboration.
  • Understanding that individual goals come first, followed by work goals.
  • Creating engaging experiences with a variety of activities, fostering strong team relations.
  • Providing regular feedback and identifying how work relates to the “big picture”.
  • Understanding that you have to earn respect no matter what your title—“respect me to be respected”.

Millennials will soon be the largest generation in the workforce and learning how to manage and engage them is critical to a business’ future success. While changing how we’ve always done something isn’t easy, a new paradigm is essential if attracting and retaining the best talent is a priority. Millennials have grown up with choices and this is no different for them when determining a place of employment. To learn more about millennial traits, I recommend the article “10 Millennial Personality Traits That HR Managers Can’t Ignore.” This provides a great overview of what managers must understand about millennials in order to ensure an effective management approach.