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How to manage a team of millennials when you are a millennial.

Valentina Barron
By Valentina Barron on

Studies have shown that approximately 20% of all leadership roles are held by millennials. And with a leadership role, comes the added layer of managing a team. That cool, fresh, buzzy work culture is probably one of the hardest things to create. But what’s even harder, is managing a team that’s more often than not, probably going to be around the same age as you.

But in most cases, it’s unavoidable. Why? Because you want millennials working for your business. They’re highly educated and skilled, they’re motivated, they bring with them new perspectives and they want to make a name for themselves.

So the question is, how do you manage a team of millennials when you are a millennial. How do you be the best friend, the mentor, the motivator and the bad guy all in one. And how do you maintain respect while doing it.

Understand what makes them tick.

Figuring out how to successfully manage millennials takes time and attention. They get bored easily. They’re not conditioned to just put their heads down and do their work. They want to be motivated, challenged and rewarded. So establishing a motivational team plan is necessary. Make sure you are always coming up with daily or weekly competitions or challenges, and put meaningful rewards. Millennials are motivated by money. But they’re also willing to put in the work and won’t stop until the job gets done. So set the challenge, and reward accordingly.

Establish boundaries. 

It’s one thing to set yourself up to be the “cool” boss that’s friends with everyone, but like in any office, when the going gets tough and someone isn’t performing, someone has to handle that. And that person is you. While it’s important to be relatable and approachable, you also need to establish yourself as a leader. And to do that, you need to establish boundaries – what’s acceptable, what’s not. Make sure you tackle problems head on. Don’t let them fester. If someone comes in late and you want your team to be punctual, say something. Otherwise you’ll find yourself having to send out a mass email to your team after they all start coming 15 minutes late. If you put rules or practices in place, make sure you uphold them. Always be professional when push comes to shove. And don’t be afraid to assert some authority and get your point across. At the end of the day, you are running a business. And if you want it to be successful, you need to build a team that’s going to help you get there.

Build a culture.

Building a culture is as important as you want it to be. You might not care about your work culture and that’s fine. But you also might want to create a culture where people want to work for you because they’ve heard about how great it is from their friends. Research shows that millennials care about this in a big way. But building a culture is more than just fun events. Think about the actual work space itself; the desks you use, the types of computers you supply, the colour of the walls, whether you have communal spaces, whether you have something really cool going on – all of this creates culture. Seating arrangement is also an integral part and is entirely dependent on the type of environment you want to create and the type of business that you run. Organizing events is also something that can help you build a positive, exciting work culture. Activities that involve team bonding are always some of the best, and can also positively impact your in-office work culture also.

Be available (but not too available).

An open door policy is important. Giving your employees the feeling that you’re relatable, and that they can approach you, is fundamental to establishing a collaborative work culture. It’s also a way for you to stay connected to all the moving parts that are going on in your business. In reality, while you’re still in a growth phase, the more things that are still being run past you, the better.  Just make sure you set aside some time for you (and in work terms – we mean the “big, important stuff”). Whether it be important phone-calls, or simply just that you need an hour to work on something that you need to be uninterrupted for, don’t be afraid to be unavailable for a period of time. Make sure you communicate this to the team so that they know when to hold onto their questions. If you don’t, you may never have a chance to get stuck into any high level tasks you want to get started on.

Make your team feel valued. 

If there’s one thing that millennials love more than money, it’s feeling like they’re valued. Millennials want to make a difference, they thrive on it. So anything that you can do in the workplace to make them feel like they’re contributing to something bigger, is going to motivate them more, and ultimately, be better for your business. So how do you make a team feel valued? It’s actually easier than it sounds. Hold regular meetings where you throw around ideas, and open up the floor to innovation to any part of the business. If you implement an idea, or an initiative from a co-worker – then give recognition. Whether it be over email to the entire organization, or in person at a weekly catch up. You can also use awards to give individual acknowledgement. No matter how ever big or small you want, whether it’s one award each week, or multiple awards for different reasons every month, this sort of recognition goes a long way with this generation.  

In summary, you want millennials on your team. If you’re a millennial yourself, then you know how much knowledge you intuitively already have about modern, online marketing. But, you can’t do it all. The right team can really help take your brand to the next level. So be smart about your hires, and once you have that team, make sure you’re paying attention to what you can do, how you can motivate them, and how you can reward them in order to keep them there.

Valentina Barron

Valentina Barron

Miss Barron is an ecommerce branding and marketing powerhouse. She specializes in social media marketing, brand innovation, email marketing and campaign management. She brings with her tremendous experience in online growth of brands as she was fundamental to the success of Flat Tummy Co after spending the last 3 years working for the company as a Social Media and Marketing Manager.

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