How to Lead the Millennial Generation in the Workplace

I find it fascinating that I have spoken to business leaders around the world about many hot topics, but the single constant I’m always asked about is how to lead the millennial generation.

Never have we had a single generation of employees that cause leaders to be so perplexed as to how to lead, manage, engage, motivate and obtain loyalty.

But in my personal experience, I have found that working with millennials is one of the most refreshing and satisfying experiences I have had as a leader.

To really understand the complexity of the situation, we need to first understand who the three generations are that are dominating the workforce.

A Breakdown of Generational Differences in the Workplace

In the workplace today, there are three major generations:

  • Baby Boomers born from to 1945 to 1963
  • Generation X born from 1964 to 1979
  • Millennials or Generation Y, born from 1980 to 1995

Each generation grew up in a very different time, which has resulted in varying priorities for their lives. In other words, they all have different reasons for choosing to do what they do, in work and otherwise.

Of course, these are all generalizations, but understanding commonalities can help us better understand how to manage these different generations of employees.

Baby Boomers

Boomers came of age in the 1970s when the free culture they experienced as children fostered independence and creative thinking. At work, they were loyal, thinking that jobs were for life, amazingly productive and worked best by themselves.

Generation X

Gen X’ers came on the scene in the 1980s during the emergence of modern technology that would forever change the workplace, such as email and cell phones, that allowed for long work days and collaboration.

In fact, Generation X team members are some of the very best at using creativity, problem solving and efficiency because of how much they valued teamwork they growing up in. They focus on results and believe that family comes first.


Millennials are the product of Baby Boomers. Millennials have never known a world without computers, cell phones or the internet, and answers to questions were just a Google search away. They are statistically also the most educated generation.

I Love Working with Millennials, and You Should Too

I find Millennials to be incredibly eager students of leadership, engagement and work ethic. The bad reputation they have received is undeserved, and does not accurately portray the millennial generation.

Today’s business environment is a place where competition is everywhere. To be successful, we all need to be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

Here are five easy tips for leading millennials in the workplace:

  1. Know that everyone is different. Your leadership style has to accommodate these differences. Millennials are no different, so do your best to be open to new ideas and suggestions.
  2. Millennials care deeply about purpose, so show them the importance of their work. When millennials can see that their work matters, they will go the extra mile to deliver.
  3. Involve them in the planning. Nothing galvanizes a team more than them knowing they have had a say in what is happening and that leadership recognizes their opinions.
  4. Talk about work. From my experience, millennials like to be involved and informed. Link what the team is doing to the strategy of the organization and talk about values, purpose, vision and strategy.
  5. Give recognition. Get comfortable giving authentic praise and recognition often.

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