Millennials – Managing, Motivating & Retaining Them

Not everyone would agree, but I love when things change. I especially am excited about change particularly when the changes being applied optimize and improve what they are being applied towards. Having worked with thousands of people during my career, the most exciting generation of people I have encountered are the millennials. Why? Because they are so open to embracing change.

Managing people is probably one of the most challenging tasks to take on, especially to be able to manage them well and unselfishly. Yes, unselfishly, because in order to be a superb manager, you need to put the interests of those you are managing ahead of your own. When you do this, those who you are managing will at first potentially not notice, and when they do, they will then be surprised you are doing this, as this is not a management technique applied or embraced by all managers.

If you think of managing people from the perspective of acting as a coach or mentor, it allows you to mentally shift your thinking and begin to strategically adopt management methods which put your staff needs ahead of your own. When you put others needs ahead of yours, empower them to stretch beyond their comfort level, yet provide them with a safe zone in case of failure, people will respond and perform at a new level you might not imagine them to do so. This management concept works extremely well with millennials, as they are so open to trying new things, and actually crave doing so.

One of the best ways to motivate millennials is to ask them for their opinion, and how they might go about mapping out how to accomplish their role with limited direction from their manager. When you provide a millennial with freedom to in essence design their path forward, they will be more motivated in their role, as they feel they have a heightened sense of controlling the direction they are able to head towards. What you also might be surprised by, is that they will also be more willing to collaborate with the management team and their team peers because they do not feel the pressure of traditional methods of management constraint.

There are numerous books that have been written about motivating people in the workplace, but most of these books are based on motivational techniques which have been around for decades. Although many of the motivational techniques are still relevant, many of them will not be effective when they are applied to the millennial generation. I know this, because I have also managed, motivated and retained hundreds of people from this generation.

Unfortunately, this generation has gotten a potentially undeserved reputation for being selfish. I think this generation is misunderstood, and has been too easily labeled as being selfish due to management techniques not working on them. This is why management techniques to apply to the millennial generation are in need to being revised and adopted. The millennial generation is motivated by things which need to be factored into helping them to be successful. They care about our environment, eating healthy, taking care of themselves and doing what is best for society more than they are given credit for. When employers and management techniques are factored into account for these type of motivational examples, a true paradigm shift will occur.

The days of employees working at a company for more than 5-10 years is becoming a thing of the past, as most employees are averaging lengths of employment sub these numbers. Due to a highly fluid flow of millennial employees changing jobs so often, this puts enormous pressure on companies to try to retain them, even for 2-3 additional years. One of the largest expenses a company has is recruiting and on-boarding new employees. If they have to continuously do this, the strain on having to fund this company expense can have a severely negative impact on their bottom line. So, how do companies address this challenge?

One of the ways companies who have low millennial retention rates can turn this scenario around, is to create a culture that is appealing to them (e.g., offering them clear or varied career paths to consider, opportunities to engage with the local community during work hours, helping them to understand their innate strengths via specialized coaching, access to internal mentors on a regular basis and greater flexibility with when and where they work). Ironically, the things that appeal to the millennials, can be equally appealing to the rest of the employees, with some modifications to account for their culture and career satisfaction too.

Embracing instead of chafing against the millennial generation and the way they are managed, motivated and retained must be factored into a company’s structure of how to run a modern company. When this occurs, a company becomes far more appealing to work at, and in turn competitive in the industry they are competing in, especially since a significant amount of their employees are from or will be from the millennial generation.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth and revenue numbers, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at.

We also work with individuals from students to C-level executives. The individuals, business and sports teams we work with are coached on how to leverage and apply their peak performance talents on a daily basis. If you want results, let’s talk. We know how to help you get them. Contact Kathleen at or (339) 987-0195.

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