Millennials are often treated as if they are some special generation that requires extra care, but they are no different from the Woodstock idealists and those that came before them. The unifying characteristic of Millennials is they want to change, and the world and they want to do it NOW. Knowing this is essential to being able to manage Millennials as it is one of their best and worst characteristics. They are no different than the Baby Boomers of old except they are a bit more socially aware and the Boomers were more socially aware than the WWII generation and so on and so forth. Millennials want to work on something that has meaning, is that really so different than the desires of the generations in the 1960s?
As I mentioned before, the key to managing Millennials is recognizing their drive to make a change. This has resulted in a generation that is self-driven and works better when they organize themselves; give them a goal and let them figure out how to get there and accomplish their task. The methodology behind this managerial style is used in computer application development which is known as the “Agile” method, and this system has shown tremendous results by not managing the people on a team. How it works: a product owner identifies, defines, and prioritizes functions and features to be developed. The team is responsible for determining how to do this work, in what sequence, and assigns the tasks to get it done. While to some people this sounds like chaos, it has been proven to yield great results. Toyota first introduced this idea in their Lean Manufacturing technique, and this proves allows Millennials to be high performing, top quality, and enthusiastic workers.
The downfall of managing Millennials is the same as dealing with any other generation: it is important to recognize what they want and what they are willing to work for and utilize that to get the results you want. This is an idealistic generation, so they need to see how their work is going to be effective in the long run. Any good manager identifies what is important to their team and focuses on that to create the best results. In the case of Millennials, they need to be given a basic structure that they can freely work within and to let them see the impact of their work.