7 Mistakes To Avoid In Leading Millennials In The Workplace


It was great to collaborate with Jennifer Davis on her blog.  Jennifer is the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) for the international business of Leyard and also serves as the vice president of marketing and product strategy at Planar Systems and Runco International.

The original post can be found on Jennifer Davis’ Blog


As a leader, one of our most important responsibilities is keeping our workforce engaged.  Typically, that may mean adapting your leadership style to match the needs of your team.  However, with the millennial generation joining the workforce, it is not enough for leaders to have to adapt their management style.  Employers may need to look at their engagement policies as well.


Millennials or “Generation Y” are defined by many as those individuals born between 1982 and 2004.  According to the Pew Research Center, there are now 75.4 million Millennials, surpassing the 74.9 million “Baby Boomers,” those born between 1946 and 1965, as the largest segment of the U.S. population.


If Companies are to keep engagement a priority, they need to understand what drives Millennial’s motivation.  Is there a need to change one’s style to adapt to this different generation?  With so much focus on Gen Y, it pays to take notice.


A recent Deloitte Millennial survey uncovered some interesting facts about this generation:

  • During the next year, if given the choice, one in four Millennials would quit his or her current employer to join a new organization or to do something different.
  • Millennials judge the performance of a business on what it does and how it treats people.
  • When asked, “What are the most important values a business should follow if it is to have long-term success?” They responded that businesses should put employees first, and they should have a solid foundation of trust and integrity.
  • Seven in ten (70 percent) Millennials believe their personal values are shared by the organizations they work for. This rises to 80 percent among the most senior Millennials and 82 percent for those intending to stay for at least another five years. This is a strong indication that Millennials choose employers whose values reflect their own.


What values are important to Gen Y?  Working for a company that:

  • Provides a good income to employees
  • Is the best possible place to work
  • Focuses on improving the skills of the workforce
  • Provides services and goods that make a positive difference to people’s lives
  • Generating and supporting jobs


It sounds similar to previous generations.  After all, which generation doesn’t want to get paid well or work for a company where they can improve their skills?  The main difference is Millennials are not willing to wait for a company to get it right.  Their level of loyalty is lower than previous generations.  Remember the first statistic from the Deloitte survey?  70% would quit their job to do something different.


Leaders and companies can no longer afford not to put employee engagement first.


Here are 7 Mistakes to Avoid in Leading Millennials in the Workplace


  1. Not Being Clear on Career Opportunities

Surveys show that Millennial workers rate training and development as an employee benefit three times higher than they rate cash bonuses. It starts with a set onboarding plan and continues with a development plan that focuses on elevating their employees’ skills.  Find ways to challenge them through stretch projects.


  1. Establishing Your Authority through Power

If as a leader, you attempt to display your authority through your position or power, you will not achieve consistent success.  In order to motivate millennials, establish authority through relationship and respect.  Leaders need to forget top down management and now focus on the side to side management.


  1. Micro-Managing

“The new-era employee assumes they can and should contribute to conversation and decisions that affect where they work,” says Lisa Orrell of San Francisco Bay Area-based consultancy, The Orrell Group and author of Millennials Incorporated. Meetings should be open, collaborative sessions in which everyone is encouraged to share ideas.

Explain what needs to be done and what the end result should look like but trust them to get there on their own.


  1. Under Emphasizing the importance of Company Culture

Establishing a solid company culture has always been important but never more so than now.  If they believe that their values are being shared by the company they work for, their loyalty increases.  Make sure your company vision is clear and is reflected in your business decisions.  When identifying and building your company culture, focus on the team and not the company.


  1. Not Investing in Technology

If you have outdated technology, you will quickly frustrate your employees.  Millennials are comfortable with all the latest tech and expect it from the place they work for.  They have become reliant on technology for just about everything.


  1. Not sharing

Transparency and open dialogue are key.  If you don’t take the time to connect with your employees, you will lose their interest fast.  Don’t assume you know what gets them motivated and have that dialogue with them.


  1. Reconsider the schedule

It may not be an option in every work environment but if you can make work hours flexible, you will be meeting an important benefit.  Replace the regular 9-5 work routine and try to work around a schedule that is a win-win for both employee and company.


The good news is that you can get to know what your Millennial workforce needs by just asking.  They expect transparency but are transparent themselves.  Just ask.