Portrait Of Multi-Cultural Office Staff Standing In Lobby

When leading millennials, trust and empowerment are key.  

As I’ve experienced in my role as Executive Vice President and COO of Spruce Industries, millennials are some of the most collaborative and innovative employees out there. When these up-and-comers feel motivated, they will do whatever they need to be successful and help their teams reach their goals. 

Despite this reality, there still seems to be a sour opinion of this age group. The sooner you forget those generational stereotypes, the sooner you can empower your employees to perform their best work. 

How do Millennials Like to Work? 

The Pew Research Center defines millennials as people born between the years 1981 and 1996. Millennials have been in the workforce for several years and their prominence is growing. 

At Spruce Industries, we recently experienced a dramatic turnover. Our sales team transitioned from a team of baby boomers to a team of mostly millennials in just five years. 

This shift meant a whole new mindset. While my older employees were more methodical and followed rigid systems, millennials came with an eagerness to learn and collaborate. 

I also noticed that millennials crave support. They value being on teams. Most of all, they want to help with decisions and contribute to the business’s success. 

Challenges Leading Millennials 

As more boomers reach retirement age, your workplace is likely to see the same type of turnover we saw at Spruce Industries — if you haven’t experienced it already. While millennials are incredibly hardworking employees, there are some challenges that leaders can face while working with them.  

For example, millennials are more likely to ask for remote work, but they’re also very adept at using the internet. Millennials tend to ask for more support, mentorship, and feedback than their older counterparts. Some millennials struggle to adapt to traditional environments where only executives make decisions. 

Lessons Learned from Leading Millennials 

Millennials are highly motivated and collaborative — but only if their leaders are trusting and supportive. To overcome certain challenges, leading millennials requires key mindset shifts: 

• Millennials have a thirst for growth and mentorship. Get more involved with your employees’ day-to-day tasks and offer them professional support. 

• Millennials love to collaborate. Tap into their potential by involving them in decision-making and brainstorming. 

• Don’t be afraid to delegate. Let your millennial employees take the lead and see how they do. 

• Remember, millennials are likely to move on — don’t be afraid of turnover. Instead, do your best to equip your employees with valuable knowledge while they’re under your wing. 

Millennials value leaders who invest in their growth, rather than those who keep them in one place. Treat your employees as professionals with potential and they will treat you with the same respect.  

Never Pigeonhole a Millennial 

No matter what generation you are, remember that we’re more alike than we realize. Millennials are just as smart, powerful and hardworking as their Gen X or baby boomer counterparts. 

Every group has its unique traits, millennials included, but we’re all working toward a common goal. By respecting your employees’ strengths and differences, you can build a better workplace for everyone. 

Daniel Josephs is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Spruce Industries, a jan/san distribution company based in Rahway, New Jersey.