Merge's Blog

Working with Millennials – take advantage of their questioning and impatient nature

Millennial08Earlier this week I put forward the somewhat controversial suggestion that you be willing to adjust your work schedule for your Millennials’ social engagements. Yeah, I heard from a “few” of you! 😛  Well, here’s another (less outrageous :)) idea for how to engage and motivate your Millennials.

Take advantage of their questioning and impatient nature. Not only do Millennials question everything, but they’re impatient for the answers; they want them now! So rather than fight this fundamental character trait, take advantage of it. Not only that, but they are willing to go beyond the status quo, and they rebound quickly from disappointments. So have your Millennial work on that new initiative that you’ve been thinking about for months, but you didn’t think would go over very well with your management. S/he will thrive on such an opportunity. Millennials are sponges waiting to soak up information, so teach them more. Satisfy their needs for information and engagement. The best way to teach is to let your Millennial get right into a complex process; plus it will also give him a sense of ownership and belonging. Let her pull apart an existing business process that you know could be streamlined. They love to learn! Give them every opportunity to do so.

Over the last four months, I’ve been blogging about ways to capitalize on the creativity, adaptability, and realism that Millennials bring to the workplace. Just click back on the links in previous posts to find them all. I’ll have more ideas to offer you in future months, but now it’s your turn. If you are a Millennial, tell us what makes you tick in the workplace. And if you’re not, tell us about your success stories when it comes to working effectively with our newest workplace generation. Contribute to the dialogue by adding to the Comment link below.


  • Hi Merge,

    This spring brought me a wonderful opportunity to temporarily hire a Millennial to assist through fiscal Year End. She originally came for a three week practicum and stayed on as a casual until she found a full time position for herself for another employer. She came with: a willingness to work; eagerness to learn new things; respect for all her co-workers, clients and team leader; she finished most tasks earlier than expected and then went to look for more work; and lastly, her work was of high quality. My biggest disappointment came when her new employer did NOT call me for a reference because I was primed and ready to give her a fabulous recommendation. I was flexible in giving her time off for important personal events and this Millennial is anxious to come back and work in my unit when there is a permanent opening.

    I look at employees as themselves. I am totally aware of cultural differences, gender differences, and different generations but the most important thing is the person themselves. I can’t use a cookie cutter approach and speak to each one differently. I have been blessed with the best team ever because almost every team member has the same qualities as the Millennial.

    I make concessions on many small issues and this has a huge pay off through fiscal Year End or other projects with short deadlines. The team often exceeds my expectations and I have high expectations.

    Here are a few items that I have authority to grant team members:
    1) Variable start and end times. This also mean that the unit is open for business longer hours as some employees start work early and others end work late.
    2) Some employees work compressed schedules to make every second weekend a long weekend. Everyone covers a team member’s absence.
    3) Short notice leave for personal reasons. The employee must use some of their leave, of course.
    4) Short notice for vacations. In one case the employee’s spouse is self-employed and cannot normally make long-range plans.
    5) Work duties are split between team members at team meetings by the members themselves. I seldom have to assign work but I do when I have to.

    The team cannot control the volume of work that comes in or all the policies, rules and regulations that govern the work. What makes the difference is the ability to have some small degree of self-determination and occasionally a chance to voice an opinion.

  • Phyllis, thanks so much for your thoughtful and detailed comment. Not surprisingly, I agree with you completely. You have clearly figured out how to tap into the great potential that the Millennial generation brings to the workplace, so Bravo. You are living proof that it IS possible! Specifically, I admire two things that you have done — first, you understand that even though generalities can be helpful in giving you a better understanding of those you work with, treating each person as an individual is paramount. And second, you have used your judgment (within the scope that you have been given) to create flexibility for your staff. I hope you’ll continue to add your perspectives to future blog posts (on Millennials and other leadership issues).


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