The Now Generation: Make Way for Millennial Managers

By Troy Anderson

As you’re probably aware, millennials have taken the workplace by storm, and not just because of their numbers. Now that they’ve been here a couple of years, they’re ready to reshape management as we know it, too.  

Despite all the negative press they receive, millennials are driven by purpose, which can translate into some very positive outcomes in the workplace. Their collaborative nature comes in handy when managing teams or rallying the troops for a critical group project. As digital natives, their knack for tech enables them to effortlessly take charge of their own career development—and inspire their employees to follow suit.

However, they do have some pretty specific ideas about when they should move up.

Great expectations? High demands? You be the judge.

Millennials expect to be promoted faster than previous generations and have no qualms about peacing out for greener (money green, obvi) pastures. Nearly half of all younger employees—41 percent—feel that employees should become managers after only two or three years of experience.

And if you overlook them for a promotion, millennials will resign at a rate of 5.2 percent higher than the average bear. On the flip side, once you’ve got ‘em running things, these young, ambitious managers are nearly two-thirds more likely to stick around than their non-manager millennial cohorts. (Visier, 2018)

The “Me Generation” may hop from job to job like none before it, but the odds are ever in your favor that these millennials will boomerang back to your company. Translation: even if they don’t plan on staying forever, you need to develop millennials into awesome managers now.

Mad transferable skills required

No matter their title or parking-space status, your millennial managers need to be trained on transferable skills, including:

  • Communication – for many young employees, communicating IRL is a real bummer. A recent poll found that 68 percent of millennials actively avoid face-to-face convos whenever possible—especially at work. We all know this won’t fly when their direct reports need ongoing 1:1s, plus positive reinforcement in between.

  • Giving feedback – when it’s great news, the thought of giving feedback doesn’t cause anxiety or avoidance. But areas of improvement can’t just be swept under the rug because they make new managers uncomfortable. Millennials need training (and much Practice) in delivering constructive criticism and feedback to their team.

  • Delegating tasks – your new millennial managers definitely don’t want to start off on the wrong foot in their new roles. Micromanaging by trying to do everything themselves is a great way to fail from Day 1. Through a mentor or online training, millennial managers need to learn how to trust their team and prioritize outcomes over the small stuff. (Thanks in advance from their direct reports!).

  • Empathy – with 83 percent of employees already seeing millennials manage Gen Xers and baby boomers, empathy training is long overdue. Empower young managers with the skills to empathize with (and therefore, effectively manage) employees old enough to be their parents, if not grandparents … #awkward!

  • Goal setting and tracking – millennials already want to know how their roles align with the company’s overall strategy. So training them to set, communicate and track employee goals should be a no-brainer. Performance management tools deliver real-time visibility for employees and their progress, so they’ll always know where they stand and be motivated to do more.   



Whether they stay, go, or boomerang time after time, it’s your job to give millennials the skills they need to grow, then get out of the way. Fortunately, there are tools that make it easy to do all the above while maintaining transparency and accountability from employee development to performance management.


To learn more about developing your modern workforce, download our e-book on working with millennials.

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