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5 sayings about millennial employees and how to handle them

By Clodagh S. Higgins - December 20, 2018

You might already know this, but your agency needs millennials. You need them because they are now at the age where they are building careers and they do it very well. 

When speaking to senior marketing and sales professionals, they are usually a bit unsure about these millennials. We can understand why. They come into a job with a mindset that is in need of coaching and training in order to become an excellent employee. But if you are prepared to put in a little extra effort, you will get people who can lift your agency to the next level.

Let's have a look at some of the most common sayings we’ve heard about Millennials this year, and how you can handle it as a manager.

1) "They want more, without doing more."

This is a known trait for a lot of Millennials. Some have been told for great parts of their life that they can do whatever they want, that they are valuable and should get what they deserve. The sky is the limit. They sometimes don’t see the whole path they have to walk in order to achieve their goals. This might be due to impatience though. That they want it all, but they want it now!

How to handle it: When hiring a Millennial, ask them what their personal and private goals are. Translate that into goals that are good for both the employee and your business. Give them a career plan that makes them feel in control of their career, but also give you the power to tell them exactly what they must achieve in order to advance in their career.

2) "They are in constant need of instant gratification."

This is something that baffles a lot of the Gen X´s and Baby Boomers about Millennials. Instant gratification is usually expected in every area of their life. Remember, the youngest Millennials are used to get their favourite show instantly available when just logging onto a computer, they have all the music in the world ready for them by just clicking play.

How to handle it: Of course, you cannot allocate time to give appraisal to every Millennial in your agency every time they complete a task. But you can make sure that they feel seen, heard and that you notice when they do something well. Make sure they know the goal of their everyday tasks, like “I am uploading this blog post as a part of a bigger strategy for Client X to get more leads to their event”. Then, make them report on that goal in order to get the appraisal. If you start doing this, you will get focused and engaged employees who are doing everything they can in order to achieve the goal, and that pat on their back. 

3) "They always want freedom."

Forget about office hours and counting vacation days, these people want their freedom. You’ll experience that this freedom can even be more worth to them than money. Being able to schedule their day freely and also take a vacation at any time they’d like, that is their goal.

How to handle it: From a manager point of view, this is hard to manage. You want to trust that your employees are mature and have a great sense of responsibility towards their job, but are afraid to let go of control. There are though, ways of making this work in an agency environment. One way of doing it is to have a policy of how many on a team can be on vacation at the same time. This way you’ll encourage your employees to plan ahead and also work together to make sure everyone can.

4) "They are rude and have no respect for people older than themselves."

First of, most Millennials are not rude on purpose. They are just not used to dealing with authority in the same way that older generations are. Speaking to their teacher or superior by their first name is common, and asking "why" is encouraged. Their parents did most likely try a “friendly” parenting approach, which have shaped a whole generation of young people who value skills, knowledge, and achievements instead of age, experience, degrees or titles.

How to handle it: This is actually great for you! Instead of just doing everything by the book, you'll have employees who ask you "Why are we doing this?" or even "Why are we doing it this way?". This will push you to always develop processes and the way you work - which will benefit the company massively. Encourage this behavior in your workplace and make it "okay" to be skeptical and ask the big why. 

5) "They are too emotional and bring personal matters into the workplace."

Being emotional or show feelings at work was considered unprofessional for a long time. Until we noticed that people who listen to their gut feeling and think about the emotional aspects of decisionmaking are actually more set out for success. Both in their personal life and in business. Managers have to rethink the way they talk with their employees, and some even end up having a box of kleenex in their office in case of tearful conversation. This might seem like too much of a responsibility to take on. Why should you spend time on their personal issues? You are not their parent or even friend, you are their boss. Right?

How to handle it: The first thing you have to do in order to be a good manager of a multi-generation team is to understand that you have to manage every single person differently. Why? Because every person is different. If you are not ready to take on everything, you'll need to find someone who is. A HR-manager is often able to quickly change the mindset before a new conversation and therefore will be able to connect in a better way. Not all Millennials will wear their heart on their sleeve, but those who do are usually worth keeping. Employees, who are open about their inner thoughts, feelings and concerns will be easier to manage in the long run because you will easily know how to make them happy at work - how? Because they will actually tell you.

To wrap this up: You have to hire Millennials in order to grow and scale. If you know how to manage your employees, you will benefit from this massively in the long run.

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