To receive these tips directly to your inbox, subscribe here.
Tip #55 - Conversation with a Millennial

The meeting ended and we were now chatting informally. I became curious about how this young woman saw the world of work, and I started asking questions. I thought I would share her answers with those of you who manage or work with the youngest generation in the workforce.  I also think many of these answers could have come from employees of all generations. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

My Intro: I really appreciated your input at the meeting and wanted to grab a coffee with you to ask a few questions about how you view the world of work. I think it would help my readers who interact with members of your generation do a better job at it (smile).

Q: What makes you feel valued in a workplace?
A: Seeing my work make a difference and getting feedback about it so I can learn. Also, being treated fairly. I am young but have an advanced education, opinions, and ideas. Involve me in the solution. I may actually know more about a topic than you think.

Q: Describe a great manager.
A:  Someone who encourages me to think outside the box, to stretch and do things I haven’t done before. Someone who trusts me to do the work and doesn’t micromanage!

Q: What irritates you the most in the older generations?
A: When older people go on about their stories, but start looking at their watch when you start to speak of yours.  Also people with no sense of humour.  Some Generation X and Boomers are focused on what is politically correct. You can’t put a joke on a corporate document without having someone try to sanitize it!

Q:  What behaviours are important to you at work?
A:  People who say: “Hello! How are you?”  Also, co-workers and bosses who will delegate the decision-making; not just the work, because you happen to be the last to join the team.


Q: What will make you stay?
A: Interesting work, a sense of progression, lots of learning opportunities.

Q: What will make you leave?
A: No opportunities for growth in my field of interest…. And demotivated older workers. I don’t want to turn out like some of them! Being around negative people makes me feel like Ariel in The Little Mermaid when her voice is taken right out of her! I can sometimes feel my creativity and innovation draining right out of me.

Q: Your final comment?
A: Yes to coaching and mentoring. No to babysitting.

This may already sound familiar to you:  work needs to be a meaningful opportunity for growth, and treatment at work to be fair and intelligent.  Perhaps the generation gap is not as wide as we thought.

For research on how to engage employees in today’s workplace, I highly recommend reading this recent study for the Canadian Association of Public Executives by Craig Dowden, Ph.D. (July 2015): Maximizing Employee Engagement within the Federal Public Service – An Evidence-Based Perspective.

You’re certainly welcome to do a bit of informal, first hand research of your own. Have a genuine conversation with your younger employees about their aspirations, and listen…without looking a your watch.