A Millennial Manager Reveals What It Takes to Manage a Team of Millennials

November 3, 2016

There are a lot of articles out there about how to manage millennials in the workforce. They’re like a foreign species that we all want learn more about. Even millennails are interested in reading about millennials.

And, it’s no secret that they have their quirks – the way they work and things they care about differ from previous generations. And, some people are stumped as to the best way to manage and motivate them.

Luckily for us, Natalie Cruz, a Talent Acquisition Operations Support Manager at LinkedIn who manages a team of millennials, knows exactly what they want…because she is one of them.

So, for this weeks Talent on Tap (our newly launched interview series), LinkedIn's CHRO Pat Wadors and Head of Talent Brendan Browne sat down with Natalie to talk about the “M-word” (millennials) and her tips for managing them:

1. You have to embrace all the “feels”

“Managing millennials is a lot about feelings,” says Natalie. “They want to know ‘are they caring about my career development?’ and ‘what’s the purpose of the work I am doing?” she says.

That means you need to be willing to talk about these things and check in on them and how they are feeling in their role often. Whereas previous generations strove to keep a clear divide between work/corporate/professional life and personal/emotional/social life, millennials want both worlds to work in harmony. Have you heard the term “bringing your full self to work”? Yes, we can thank millennials for that.

As we all know, emotions are as fulfilling as they are dangerous. Natalie cautions against leaning too far into prioritizing feelings, as millennials often take things personally. To combat this, a manager of millennials should overly index on providing context and keep the tone objective.

2. Hear them out and coach them

Once you’ve listened to them, you have to “empower them to make change and help coach them,” says Natalie. What’s really important is the actions you do after you hear them out.

According to her, millennials are always interested in their next opportunity and sometimes they try to move too quickly. So when you simply have ot say no to something a millennials wants, “give them more context and talk them through difficult situations so they see the other side of things,” she says. For example, if they are interested in moving into a role they aren’t ready for, offer to give them more projects and work in that area to help them prepare. What it really comes down to is that millennials want to feel cared for and know you have their best interest in mind.

“It’s important to help them set a timeline for themselves, set expectations, and have clarity around the path they need to take to get there,” she says. “A lot of times, they want to come up with the answer themselves,” Cruz advises non-millennial managers. Turning the tables and managing through coaching, rather than instructing, can be mutually beneficial.

3. Keep it casual and get to know them on a personal level

Ultimately, millennials want to know they belong and be able to be themselves without a looming sense of breaking professional code, says Natalie. It’s essential for them to feel comfortable in their work environment.

As their manager, that means you need to show interest in their lives. Ask them how their mother/brother/dog is doing and communicate with them in a relaxed way. “We have a group text and even like to use Bitmojis,” says Natlie. Let them be themselves and, in turn, that means you can just be yourself as a manager. A millennial who can dress, speak, and think like themselves is a millennial primed for success.

Millennials will continue to grow into more senior level, manager, or leadership roles. As this powerful generation continues to overtake the corporate ladder, it will be key to continue questioning millennials on what works and what doesn’t. After all, they love to be heard!

Talent on Tap is a weekly series where Pat Wadors and Brendan Browne break down some of the hottest topics, biggest challenges, and most enticing opportunities in the world of talent. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space. Stay tuned each week for the latest.

*Image from Death to the Stock Photo

To receive blog posts like this one straight in your inbox, subscribe to the blog newsletter.