The term “millennials” loosely describes those born between 1980 and 2000. Also known as Generation Y, this rising group of young people present a different set of challenges in leadership. Knowing how to address the changes will give you an upfront edge in taking your team forward.

Understanding what makes them different is the first step. When you can relate to them on their terms, you will be able to guide them.

Millennials in general are functional within teams, but the driving force is their own accomplishment. They are not team players in the same way that Generation X was. In fact, this age group has been dubbed the Me Generation. Their ideas seem broader and more inclusive but their worlds are smaller and they seem to hide from personal interaction.

This group is not looking to spend their career in one place, and are in fact very geared to mobility, searching for the ultimate position. Retention of the best of the best will be a challenge. The gold watch and large pension are not the draw that they used to be.

Communication styles are much different. Boomers wanted a phone call, Generation X expected an email, and Generation Y will be happy with an impersonal app to assign tasks or even a text. If you are still trying to corral them with meetings, calls, and emails, you will lose them quickly.

Millennials expect you to be involved. The days of giving an assignment or task and coming back when it was completed are over. You will need to be close by for individual support, direction, and yes, positive feedback. Although this flies in the face of the impersonal communications code above, it seems to tie in for them.

In the past, companies rewarded their employees with cash bonuses and paid time off. Although these still work, what today’s employees want is flex time. They work to support their play. While Gen X married and had families, the Millennials are traveling the world and pursuing relaxation. Thus, work is still a means to an end, but the end has shifted.

With these traits in mind, expect to spend more time on the computer managing this generation using shared calendars, project management applications, and only the occasional progress meeting.

You can expect your attendance policy to be challenged, as work is not as high on the totem pole as it was in previous employment eras. If it is feasible at all, you may want to structure things differently and try to work within the parameters that will allow you to keep employees longer. However, if processes are on a tight schedule, you must find a way to relate that to them and then expect cooperation.

You will be finding new ways to recognize your stellar employees, and you may want to simply ask them what makes them feel valued. In the end, whether they are Boomers, Generation Xers, or Millennials, being able to make an employee feel good at the end of the day is what makes every leader a success.

For help coaching and motivating your employees, contact us today! Diamond Strategy Group is a leadership development and consulting company. We focus on improving the quality of leadership within organizations by utilizing the same methods Mike and his consultants have used in both military and civilian sectors. We invite you to stay connected! Visit us online at and connect with Mike Diamond on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter or E-mail us at!

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