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How Gen X Managers Can Prepare Millennials for Leadership

Performance Management is the 'Ticket'

I have previously blogged about the values of Millennials and how to keep them engaged in the workplace. According to a study by the CAA Intelligence Group, 86 million millennials will be in the workplace by 2020—representing a full 40% of the total working population. Millennials are on track to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. What keeps millennials engaged and productive workers? What turns them off?

The Intelligence Group studies of millennials have found that:

  • 64% of them say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place.
  • 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.
  • 88% prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one.
  • 74% want flexible work schedules.
  • And 88% want “work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend together inextricably.  Millennials-and-tech

Millennials need to have access to technology and be challenged how to use it in the workplace to enhance operating results. Similarly, theydon’t just want to spend their time earning a paycheck; they want to invest time acquiring the skills and knowledge they need to grow both personally and professionally. They seek out an employer who can provide the skills necessary to get ahead and climb the ladder of corporate success.  

There have been many criticisms of millennials by older workers including baby-boomers. Some say they are more interested in their own needs than those of an employer. Others claim they lack an adequate work ethic. Still others feel the commitment to the organization is fleeting as they expect to move on after a few years. These attributes may be different than ever before, but that doesn’t mean their bad or wrong. It means employers have to learn to effectively reach out to millennials; provide a stimulating work environment; allow for flexibility in work hours; provide consistent feedback so they know just how well they are doing; and be sensitive to their need to access social media during the day – within prescribed limitations.

I recently read a piece by David Hassell, who is the CEO of 15Five about these issues. According to 15Five [https://www.15five.com/]—what’s needed is a performance management solution that makes continuous employee feedback simple —Boomers and Gen X need to communicate their hard-earned wisdom and meet millennial needs such as career growth and professional development.

Chances are your company has a millennial standing at the door of upper-level management. Here's how to teach them to lead effectively: 


Research shows employees who receive feedback on weaknesses are 20x more likely to be engaged, while those who receive feedback on strengths are 30x more likely to be engaged.

41% of millennials say they want feedback at least once a month but keep your criticism constructive.


Millennials are mission-driven. This spurs innovation but also breeds disdain for routine work. Give creative leeway but make it a point to keep your mentee focused.


The mentorship model is timeless, not old-fashioned. Most millennials interested in leadership still believe mentorship works.


Millennials' phones are extensions of their hands. Take advantage of your millennial protégé's tech fluency but also set boundaries on phone use during work hours to create space for deep work.


Millennials grew up with the ethos all opinions are valuable. Recognize your millennial employees’ contributions but make it clear that convincing ideas are backed up by facts.

Great advice from David Hassell. Performance management software is available to improve business performance by encouraging employee productivity. It can ensure individual employees and teams are engaged and in alignment with organizational goals. Most important, it can replace the sometime contentious annual performance review process with real-time performance tracking, goal setting and feedback.

Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, Emeritus Professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, on March 21, 2018. Visit his website and sign up for the Newsletter.