5 tips for managing a millennial

5 tips for managing a millennial

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If you visited my living room, you could be mistaken for thinking you’d stepped into the nearby Botanical Gardens. I love plants, especially indoor ones. They’re young, vibrant and nomadic – a bit like a millennial.

Water and care for them regularly, and they’ll grow quickly. Plus they’ll make your environment a bit cooler looking. Neglect them, and they’ll become bitter, droopy, and may not last very long.

Some of the best teams I’ve led have included a good mix of millennials. Getting the best out of them depends on their management – so here are five tips for success:

1.       One-on-one time

Catch-up with your millennial team member once every two weeks and make it mostly about them.

It’s fundamental that you ask lots of questions, and listen to them. Ask them how they are and what they’ve been working on, and they’ll feel like a valued member of your team – meaning that you’ll have a more driven performer on your hands.

Towards the end of the catch-up don’t forget to ask for feedback. A simple way to ask is: “is there anything that I should be doing that I’m not currently doing for you?”.

Tip: If fortnightly catch-ups are a bit of stretch for you, then make sure there are ways they can check their own progress weekly. Plus, keep an eye out for my comprehensive guide to a successful one-on-one – coming soon!

2.       Feedback

Unlike generations before, millennials thrive on feedback.

In fact, if you haven’t started providing feedback soon enough, they’ll begin asking for it. Giving constructive feedback is critical for their learning and development, so make sure you’re prepared.

Tip: Take one or two pieces of feedback with examples, both on performance and behaviour, to your one-on-ones, it will help them to feel engaged and grow.

3.       Keep a scoreboard

‘Transparency creates accountability’ is one of my guiding leadership principals.

If it’s permitted and appropriate, use a scoreboard to help your millennial team member track against their KPI’s, targets, or fellow colleagues.

Millennials are similar to other generations in that they are competitive bunch. If executed well,  Visual Management Boards (physical or digital) can drive great performance and behaviours by motivating your millennial team members with real measures.

Tip: Have their individual numbers handy during your one-on-ones.

4.       Tenure

By now we’ve all heard that it’s the journey not the destination that counts.

It’s important to understand (and remind yourself) that you are merely a caretaker of a millennial’s career for a limited time. So all the more reason that you should make a positive and lasting impression.

During tenure planning, I expected that the millennials in my teams would stay for about two years before moving on (more detail on this below). While this may vary depending on the industry and role, it’s important to understand that millennials will move between jobs a lot faster than previous generations. Especially if they feel as if they are not progressing towards their own goals.

Tip: Discuss expected timeframes in your one-on-ones, your millennial will appreciate the honesty and likely return the favour if external roles come up.

5.       Performance

If you’ve been in one of my training or leadership sessions, you’ll be familiar with my one of my favourite phrases: “how a person performs directly relates to how they see the situation”.

By “situation” I mean a person’s view of their current role/environment/manager/company and how it connects to their future ambitions.

If a millennial does not view you, their role, or their future possibilities favourably, you’ll see a drop in their performance and a higher likelihood of them exiting.

On the other hand, if they see you, their role, and their working environment in a positive light, congratulations – you have a star performer in the making!

Tip: In your one-on-one ask your millennial what they have been working hard-on and what they have achieved since the last catch up.

The two-year plan:

My approach when working with a millennial is:

Year one:

Conversations and development focus on understanding them as an individual and helping them master their current role. Take the time to understand their background, values, strengths, and ambitions. This is not only important for development planning, but also in building a relationship.

Mastering their current role involves putting together an individual development plan that primarily focuses on developing their skills. If you’ve really excited them, then expect a great year from this individual.

Year two:

As year two comes around, you should have lots more information about your team member. Armed with this, you can shift the conversations towards future opportunities and roles. This may be in the team, the broader company or externally.

The individual development plan should focus on areas of improvement for your staff member, with consideration to their next role or to help them get the next role. You may also make a start on an Individual Succession Plan.


These are just a few of the many things to consider when managing a millennial. As a result of your great leadership and coaching, you may just find your millennial sticking around longer than you originally expected.

Looking for more leadership and management tips & tricks? Keep an eye on my weekly blog.


Quote of the week: I heard you’re a player. Nice to meet you, I’m the coach.