7 Things Every Baby Boomer Must Learn About Leading Millennials

According to the US Census Bureau, the Millennial generation is some 80 million strong, and more of these younger people enter the work force every month.

Seasoned (okay, older) leaders sometimes have trouble understanding and working with this new generation and its work-related values, which differ greatly from those of their parents.

The first insight for working with Millennials is to give up on managing them and be a leader. You’ll find that this outstanding group of workers and volunteers love working for leaders who engage and inspire them. Here are some tips for encouraging them as their leader.

Create an Environment of Teamwork and Affirmation

Millennials have had praise heaped on them by their Baby Boomer parents, and they’re used to spending time in groups. Capitalize on that by embracing the idea of team projects and team leadership, and lead them by affirming what they do right.

Talk About Relationships not Rules

Millennials are motivated by purpose, vision, and positive values; not so much by rules and regulations. Talk more about your value of teamwork than the rule about copying you in on their emails. Give them a reason to join your movement without sending out a list of do’s and don’ts.

Think of Yourself as a Coach, not a Boss

Top-down leadership is all but dead among Boomers. With Millennials, it never saw the light of day. This generation values mentoring and inclusion. Coach them rather than manage them. Think more like a teacher, less like a dictator.

Be Willing to Mix Work and Personal Life

Millennials don’t seem to identify with that distinction anyway. They think of work as part of their larger life, not as a distinct category. You can be more personal with them than perhaps your first boss was with you.

Wrap Communication in Respect

Some would argue that Millennials are used to being coddled by over-protective parents. I think a better way to attempt to understand them is to realize that they are used to being respected. You’ve heard the saying that “the medium is the message”? With Millennials, the relationship is the message. Respect them, and they will respect you.

Connect Electronically

This generation has never known a day without the Internet, and many have never used a phone that did not also serve them as a computer. Team meetings can now be held online. Paper memos have become a waste of time to most organizations. It’s now time to take advantage of the technology with which they identify and possess.

Inspire and Enable

As an aging Baby Boomer, I’ve come to realize that today’s generation wants to accomplish something that’s more meaningful and long lasting. It’s my belief that we must inspire them as well as equip and enable them. In so doing, they will become the best leaders the world has ever known!

What’s your advice on leading Millennials? If you are a Millennial, I’d especially like to hear form you! Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.



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