Learning from leading Millennials

This article isn’t written for Millennials although they’re more than welcome to read it. This article is written for everyone in the workforce who believes that Millennials are challenging, if not impossible, to deal with.

You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding.

Isn’t it life that an ‘older’ generation looks at a ‘newer’ generation as a bit, well, imperfect—perhaps even whacky? How many times did you hear your parents say ‘Kids these days…’?

Perhaps it’s the older generations who are out of sync and should learn to be more Millennial than the other way around. Perhaps it’s time we realised it’s our workplaces and approaches that could be lagging and out-of-step, not Millennials themselves.

Dr Kim Vella, an accredited executive career coach, hears time and again from leaders she coaches and has in her workshops that Millennials are a challenge and perhaps even misunderstood. The topic pops up so often that Kim became inspired to host an expert panel discussion on this hot topic to dig deep on Millennials—the facts and myths, their fears, hopes and aspirations, their loyalties and, last but not least, the amazing benefits they bring to today’s work world, if allowed to.

‘Millennials: What do you really know?’ explored these and other burning questions with a panel discussion made up of—you guessed it—Millennials, specifically an entrepreneur, management consultant, journalist and public sector leaders. Their thoughts are recapped here for those who couldn’t attend the panel event.

10 facts you can’t avoid about Millennials

  1. Millennials will soon make up half the world’s workforce and they aren’t going anywhere fast.
  2. Millennials are young and more culturally diverse than any generation before them—they have a broad and rich perspective.
  3. Millennials don’t care most about money and bonuses; they care about purpose, development, value and making a real difference.
  4. Millennials don’t want to stay in the same job for decades, slowly working their way up the ranks. They want to progress without delay.
  5. Millennials are the first generation in today’s work world who grew up with the Internet as part of their everyday lives, and they use their ‘switched on’ power to amazing advantage.
  6. Millennials believe in teamwork and the strength that teamwork brings to creativity and productivity.
  7. Millennials don’t believe you have to work at the same desk, 9 to 5, to be productive. They believe in flexible scheduling and working remotely.
  8. Millennials are prepared to call it like it is and ask questions so they understand.
  9. Millennials believe they deserve opportunities for advancement and new challenges, even if they’re ‘newbies’ in the workforce.
  10. Millennials don’t like being discriminated against or talked down to because of the year they were born. (No generation does.)

5 myths you need to bust about Millennials

  1. Millennials are lazy. Not true. Millennials are energetic and want to do great things. They love end results more than they love rigid structures and processes.
  2. Millennials don’t like feedback. Not true. They thrive on early, regular and constructive feedback.
  3. Millennials don’t listen or care. Not true. They’re bright, quick, sharp and inquisitive.
  4. Millennials never settle or stay in jobs for long. Not true if they’re in a motivating and rewarding environment with room to grow.
  5. Millennials hate structure. Not true but they know there’s more than traditional, boring and bureaucratic ways of working.

10 ways to build an amazing Millennial team

  1. Provide regular, honest and constructive feedback and reinforcement, including on how their work contributes to company success—Millennials want to know how they’re performing.
  2. Be open to new ideas and possibilities, including with technology and flexible work environments.
  3. Create a fun work environment and ensure work/life balance since personal time is important to Millennials. Build teams that can brainstorm—Millennials love to brainstorm.
  4. Offer bonuses (beyond money) that are important to Millennials and mean something to them.
  5. Work with Millennials on a plan that encourages development, motivates them and helps them grow and achieve.
  6. Create opportunities for advancement, remembering that Millennials aren’t going to wait for years to get promoted…think about training and executive coaching, and how to help expand their horizons until they do get promoted.
  7. Reward Millennials in ways that count, remembering that this generation isn’t seduced by offerings of traditional entitlements, gadgets and toys, but rather meaning and honoring their strengths and contributions.
  8. Make sure Millennials can ‘connect’ with your business. Explain your vision and values and their important role in achieving these.
  9. Listen carefully, since Millennials want to be heard, even if their ideas aren’t all implemented. Let Millennials ask ‘Why’ and, whatever you do, don’t respond ‘Because I said so.’ Let them challenge. It invigorates them and you’ll learn heaps.
  10. Never treat Millennials like they’re just another number or just another employee. They have too much respect for themselves to tolerate that.

‘Millennials: What do you really know?’ was moderated by Eddie Williams, radio announcer and award-winning radio producer. Panelists:

 Jordan Kerr, management consultant and social entrepreneur

Kerstin Oberprieler, entrepreneur and PhD student

Kirstie Fitzpatrick, journalist and blogger

Stephanie Jacobs, public sector leader and PhD student


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