Five Essential Millennial Management ClashPoints

First thing’s first: what is a ClashPoint anyway? A ClashPoint is an area where the generations are likely to collide, but each has a valid point of view. In our latest book, Managing Millennials for Dummies®, we honed in on the most common Millennial clashes in the workplace, the ones we’ve seen pop up again and again over two decades of work with hundreds of clients. These ClashPoints constitute the core, the essential, the meat—if you will—of our book. Each of them is chock-full of Millennial-management strategies, and we wanted to give you a glimpse into what these ClashPoints are all about.

So here we go. Below you’ll find a brief description of each ClashPoint and the corresponding three things we think you should know to level-up your Millennial-management game.

Clash point #1: Adapting to Changes in Organizational Structure…the World Is Flat

One of the trickiest things about managing these days is that we’re living in a half-changed world. While the traditional org chart has been around for decades, Millennials are demanding a new model that looks far less like a ladder and much more like a web. Managing a generation who wants a flatter structure within an organization that still values titles and corner offices can be a challenge to say the least.

Top Three Things to Know:

  • Millennials value transparency and speed and often see hierarchical structures as getting in the way of getting things done.
  • Growing up, Millennials had unprecedented access to everyone and everything. Walking into a traditionally organized workplace can be quite a shock to them.
  • There are pros and cons of both the network and the hierarchy. This is NOT about ditching the tried and true org chart; it’s about finding a balance that works for you.

Clash point #2: Encouraging and Facilitating Collaboration—Go Team!

Millennials grew up repeating mantras like “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’” and “Two heads are better than one.” In comparison, their Xer brethren were taught sayings like “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” Get these two generations in a workplace setting and major collisions can ensue. Figuring out how to foster the collaborative spirit of this Millennial generation while not actually killing the independent Xers in the process is one of the toughest challenges that today’s managers face.

Top Three Things to Know:

  • Collaboration doesn’t look like it used to. From instant messaging to social media, collaboration has been reinvented by this generation.
  • Create opportunities for Millennials to collaborate with each other. This will help prevent Xer burnout and still give Millennials the collaboration they crave.
  • As the manager, it’s up to you to set the ground rules on collaboration. From the very beginning of a project, be clear about when and how often you intend to collaborate.

Clash point #3: Supercharging Your Feedback Loop…Gold Stars Abound!

Ever since the term “Millennial” entered the popular vernacular, the generation has been teased about being the ”Trophy Generation.” Yes…Millennials’ childhood rooms were often filled with participation awards and 7th place trophies, but that doesn’t give managers a free pass to laugh, roll their eyes, and not consider how to best deliver feedback. Whether positive or negative, formal or informal, figuring how to deliver feedback in a way that resonates with Millennials will be critical for managers who want to get the most out of them.

Top Three Things to Know:

  • There are three elements to consider when giving Millennials impactful feedback: speed, frequency, and transparency.
  • While there will always be a place for the formal, annual review process, Millennials gravitate more towards the informal, more frequent check-ins.
  • Feedback is a two-way street. Gone are the days when managers do all the talking; Millennials want to share their opinions too. Build in opportunities for reverse-mentorship relationships.

Clash point #4: Motivating Millennials—Generation “Why?”

Figuring out how to motivate Millennials has arguably been one of the toughest challenges for managers. It used to be a much more straightforward equation. More money equaled more motivation. Or at least that’s how companies operated. Now managers are finding that upping the salary isn’t enough to win Millennial loyalty, and leaders are asking themselves, “how come what motivated me isn’t motivating them?”

Top Three Things to Know:

  • One of the biggest ways to motivate Millennials is to help them find their squad at work. Developing a work family is a huge point of retention for this generation who has blurred the line between work and personal.
  • When Millennials ask the reason why something is done, they aren’t trying to be disrespectful. They genuinely want to understand. Try not to get defensive.
  • Devising ways to motivate Millennials beyond money can not only help retention and engagement but also save dollars. (For more on this, you will want to read Chapter 18: The Ten Things that Motivate Millennials Other than Money)

Clash point #5: Dropping Workplace Formalities: Let’s Be Friends

As generational experts, one thing we hear all too often is that “kids these days” have no work ethic. And while there are members of every generation who are truly lazy bums, usually it’s less about work ethic and more about differing opinions when it comes to workplace formalities. Everything from dress code and job titles to social media and time off can annoy managers and Millennials alike, distracting everyone from the work that needs to get done.

Top Three Things to Know:

  • The biggest shifts we’ve seen in workplace formality are around a) what hard work looks like, b) what to wear, and c) what’s personal life v. what’s professional life.
  • Millennials have blurred the lines between personal and professional and are more likely to want to connect with managers on a personal level. Be clear about what you, as their manager, are and aren’t comfortable with.
  • Try not to get mired in how many hours your Millennial reports put in, but instead focus on the output of those hours.

If this ClashPoint skim whet your appetite for more, more, MORE about Millennial management strategies, be sure to pick up our book, Managing Millennials for Dummies® to get the full scoop.

***BONUS: Curious which ClashPoint didn’t make the book? Watch our vlog to learn about the sixth one!