By Bryan Orr

As I sit here typing this one of my managers walks into the office. At 26 years old, Jesse is a prime example of a Millennial. He cares about vacation time and all the “experiences” that money can buy. He needs to be heard and have his ideas considered. He is talking to me about getting a new lease for a property; he has done the homework, he has looked at many options and he wants my feedback on some of the spaces.

This is LITERALLY happening as I am typing this… I hope he doesn’t notice what I’m doing, because the first tip for managing Millennials is giving them dedicated attention… Just kidding. Millennials are used to their friends staring at screens while they talk.

Jesse looks at work differently than I do; we’ve talked about this often. He is an incredible leader and a great asset to our organization regardless of our differences.

Jesse has been with us since he was a teenager and I can assure you of one thing. If he EVER felt our company was not the best opportunity for him, he would be gone faster than you could say… Millennial.

Here are some of my tips to help make managing Millennials a successful endeavor.

Don’t Exaggerate

Millennials grew up in a world saturated with marketing. While their dreams may be huge, they require absolute honesty from their leaders otherwise they can quickly lose faith in the vision and move on.

Don’t Dictate Details

Structure is important, but if you want to keep Millennials around you need to leave room for them to do things “outside of the box”. Like every generation of youth, they desire individuality, and millennials have seen enough of their “heroes” make it in business by breaking the rules that they often will buck against your rules. Embrace it; you may find you learn something.

Provide Weekly Wins

Millennials don’t believe you and your business will take care of them over the long haul. Their faith is in themselves and their own skills and creativity, not in your vision. Whenever possible, create structures with a short feedback loop that gives younger workers something to work toward in the hyper short term. When you keep your word in the little things they will tend to trust you with the longer term incentives.

Don’t Whine

Young people are different than older workers. That has ALWAYS been the case. Sure, some of them may be entitled, unrealistic and even lazy, but hat has been true of a certain portion of every generation. When young people hear you complain about them and their “work ethic” they hear you stereotyping them and Millennials HATE stereotypes. Yes… I realize this whole article is full of stereotypes about Millennials… don’t let them see you reading this.

Recognize What They Want

For Millennials, the American dream is no longer about home ownership, having a family or the white picket fence. My friend Brandon is in his 20s and he said the American dream for him is about “doing what makes you happy” emphasis on the “doing” not “acquiring.” Millennials put their hope in experiences more than things, travel over having children, freedom over the corner office.

In many ways they may be onto something. For us as leaders we need to find ways to match our company ethos with that of our workforce. Enjoy the experience.

Subscribe to the Small Business Bonfire Newsletter
And get your free one-page marketing plan template.