May 25, 2022

As a consultant and trainer, I have the pleasure of working with all types of people from different ranges of the generational spectrum. From Baby Boomers to Gen X’ers to Millennials to Gen Z’ers. They all want great team cultures and to connect better with others. They want their managers to be more engaging, and they want certain things in their workplace. But that’s where the problems arise. These things mean different things to each generation. With the glaring fact that Millennials now make up one-third of the workforce, and that within 10 years they will be the leaders in most companies, it really is important for non-Millennials to better understand what the Millennials want.

Before we go over the list, if you are a non-Millennial you have to promise me that you are not going to roll your eyes as you read the list and that you are not going to have a knee-jerk reaction and think something like, “Here we go again! Millennials making demands. They are so unreasonable…” etc, etc, etc. For now, try to withhold judgment. What I’m asking you is that you first seek to understand. First, let’s go over the list. We’ll discuss what is reasonable and what is not.

I’d like to thank J at Millennial Boss, who study this important topic and outlined her paper titled, “5 Things Millennials Want at Work”. This is a summary of her findings. There are many things Millennials want. But there are 5 top things. Below we cover the first 2.

1. They want flexible working hours and arrangements - This does not necessarily mean that they are lazy and do not want to show up at work. That may be the case for some, but not for the vast majority. The reason they want this is that for the most part, they have figured themselves out in this area and realize they work better and produce more with an accountability structure that provides a remote element to it. They are definitely more comfortable, but more importantly: that’s the structure in which they can complete a multitude of tasks. Older generations grew up being more at the office and working by the clock. Millennials work differently.

So, should you grant this to all Millennials? Definitely not. Some positions are possible, some are not. And I would recommend only granting this after 6-9 months of working at the office and performing well. Offer it as a performance reward. Make sure their managers monitor deadline adherence weekly and pull them back if they slip on deliverables. And be realistic with them. If the position they are being hired for cannot possibly ever be done remotely, then tell them that. But if it is possible, let me encourage you: from my experience, the Millennials that have worked with me remotely are extremely awesome, and surprisingly less effective in person at the office. Go figure!

But remember: give clear assignments, with clear deadlines and meet with them weekly to align with each other and create consistent accountability.

2. More Time with Managers - When I tell this to managers and business owners, they usually tell me, “no they don’t. They avoid me like the plague.” I usually say something like, “but it’s your responsibility to set up weekly or bi-weekly alignment meetings with them to connect and talk about the whole of their performance.” And then I ask them if they are faithfully having those discussions with the Millennials. Thankfully, most of them are transparent enough to admit that they are not proactively seeking those weekly conversations with the Millennials. That’s the key: regular (weekly) touchpoints of good discussion. Millennials want 1-on-1 time with their managers. They want advice. They want feedback. They want direction. And as much as they are not good at receiving critique, they yearn for it just like we all do. And the whole idea of waiting 6 months or 12 months for us to give them feedback on their performance does not work. They want - and need - more time with managers.

So, ask them what day of the week, and what time, is best for them to connect with you, and send them a recurring calendar invite. Here is a simple agenda to use:

Accomplishments this past week

Review for status and progress of the tasks you assigned each other from last week

Discuss how things are going in the top projects they are working on

The 1-2 things you need them to improve or make adjustments, and….

The things they need you to adjust or areas they need your help in

My experience is that when I meet with Millennials on a consistent basis, and we have a repeatable, consistent agendas to work from week to week, we connect and they outperform my expectations. After 6-9 months of doing this, if their position allows them to be more remote, then I continue the same weekly discussions but over the phone or Facetime.

So, are these unreasonable?

Could this work?

Give me your feedback and comments.

In our next blog, we’ll cover the remaining 3 top things they want.

After that, we will cover the areas where Millennials are not so realistic and should make adjustments.