A group of Gen Y and Millenials at workFor years CEO’s and executives have struggled with the work ethic and mentality of Gen Y and Millennial employees.  We define Generation Y/Millennial as age’s 18-32 based on this EY study.

Many Executives have been confused and work hard to understand the motivation behind these employees.  They have also come to the realization that growing a business is challenging and will require future generations of empowered employees to compete.  Like it or not there is a generation shift happening right now and it is critical to embrace this change. 


Moving into Management

Gen Y

Gen X


Less than a year to less than five years ago (2008-2013)




Five to less than 10 years ago (2003-2008)




10+ years ago (earlier than 2003)





This group is maturing and developing their confidence, work ethic and passion for success and as this chart demonstrates are focused on moving into management.

So how do you develop and train the Gen Y and Millennial generation to become successful managers and the future of your company?

Recognize that it takes time to prepare and build a consistent methodology around training.  Start by understanding your audience and define a baseline of motivational traits as well as common pitfalls that hinder success.  Then outline the key strengths and success factors of these generations and use this combined knowledge to set the course for your growing company. 

Here are 4 key attributes to consider:


This generation’s greatest priority is to keep a high quality of life.  For them life is and has been about being constantly connected to their social network and making sure that their lifestyle is comfortable.  Typically their friends, hobbies and interests come first and career second.  The more mature employees find that a career requires commitment, hard work and sacrifice.  They have set goals around career advancement and are taking on this challenge.  They have a clear plan to be the next generation of leaders. 

Motivational Traits:

The Gen Y / Millennial generation is typically motivated by awards.  Whether important to you or not, awards are good.  Whether they are individual, team or company awards make sure you give them.  Recognition works.  Other motivations include the opportunity to work from home and the perception of cool fun social environments and positive work culture.  These are all key triggers for the next generation. 


These employees have grown up winning and unfortunately have never learned how to lose.  Rejection and failure is new to them.  Direct open verbal communication and dialog at times is avoided and email or text is the chosen way to communicate. They feel a full day of work is from 9:00am – 5:00pm and that success is showing up.  They have not yet learned what it takes to be successful.  They want to be leaders but may not fully understand what that entails. They are still very much reliant upon their parents and tend to struggle expressing themselves in person. 


They have a high aptitude for technology.  They learn quickly and see the world differently.  They bring fresh ideas to the table and are coachable.  They try new things and acclimate to new technologies at incredible rates and they are eager to learn. They are hungry for success and have the determination to be part of ‘the next big thing.” They also bring innovation and creativity to the table that can help build an organization.

These attributes are not meant to offend but instead are used as positives to build and mentor future generations.  The “pitfalls” should not be viewed as negatives or a means to crush this generation’s spirit, but rather be used to foster their ability to lead and manage. By using this baseline companies can define the most effective training program to promote successful managers.  Before getting started realize that this generation needs guidance more than anything. 

I recommend:

  1. Explaining to future managers your story.  Tell your story in terms of your sacrifice to get where you are and help them to relate.  This seems so basic but it is the foundation to building successful managers.  They need to first understand what it is going to take to be a success.  They will thank you for your mentorship and guidance as they pull away from their peers. 
  2. Secondly, build recognition and awards around behaviors that support their success.  Help empower future managers and build confidence.  They relate to rewards and those rewards should be based on their interests.  Let them decide what the rewards should be and motivate leaders based on clear objectives and achievement of those objectives.  Hold a hard line to corporate process and scalability but reward based on meeting or exceeding goals.  Hold these managers accountable and teach them how to make mistakes and be able to openly communicate. 
  3. The Gen Y/ Millennial generation struggle with rejection.  Work with them through their failures and help them find their own answers.  Support and empowerment these managers but make sure they learn how to fall down.  They struggle with delegation because they struggle to hold peers accountable.  They need training with in-person verbal communication.  As a result the need to be assured that what they are doing is correct.  Training must be around setting verbal expectations with peers and holding them accountable.  They have grown up winning and tend to avoid hurt feelings.  They gravitate toward an amiable approach to leadership, but appreciate and learn quickly how to challenge peers to get the job done.  This takes guidance and hands on training in order to help your Gen Y/Millennial managers get past their fear of hurting others feeling.  The advantage for Gen Y/Millennial managers is they can relate to peers in a way that you can’t.  Once trained, they learn how to expect greatness from their teams and take ownership.  This helps them to explain the importance of their team’s contribution to the entire enterprise.  Train them how to build fun dynamic cultures and that are positively charged and contagious high output environments.  Let them use their creativity to build and motivate the company.
  4. Train Gen Y/Millennial workers to empower themselves and get creative.  Ask them for more than just their job.  Help them find the ownership and pride in what they are doing.  Hear their voice and listen to their ideas.  They learn technology quickly and because they acclimate to new solutions encourage them to share their knowledge.  Train them on collaboration and creativity.  Include this generation in process overhauls and challenge them to contribute to the corporation at a higher level. 

The Gen Y/Millennial generation is learning how to become future leaders and they need help.  The most successful organizations mentor and empower them and build training programs relating directly to this audience and their needs.  Focus on these generational attributes not as weaknesses but instead to understand your audience.  Embrace this energetic, eager and coachable generation as you look to build a strong sustainable corporation. 

Published On: February 19th, 2014Categories: Blog News, Job Search and Career

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