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Why managers need to stop worrying and love millennials

Tom Kaneshige | Oct. 11, 2013
Millennials will challenge traditional managerial methods and question your every move. However, they will also bring energy, tech savvy and innovative ideas. Focus on hiring and retaining them as if your job depends on it -- because it will.

Farris, a 30-something GenX-er, has managed about a dozen millennials over the past 10 years. Currently, she has four millennials on her eight-person staff. Managing millennials can be an eye-opening experience. At first, some words coming out of millennials' mouths took her by surprise, she says.

In a meeting last year, Farris and her staff were weighing which analyst firm to partner with, when a 25-year-old staffer asked, "why?" Farris was taken aback; building analyst relationships is considered standard procedure. But the question led Farris into writing out all the reasons to partner with analysts, which ultimately resulted in finding the right analyst firm.

"Ask a millennial to do a task and nine times out of 10, the first question they will ask is, 'Why?' It's a shocking response for some of us who were raised in a world where you don't question authority figures, but the truth of the matter is that it's a good question-one we should ask more often," Farris says.

Older co-workers often shake their heads at the audacity of millennials further down the organizational chart who want to know what's happening at the higher levels and what's behind the decision-making process. Older co-workers will trot out work rules that they had to live by and throw them in the face of millennials, such as "pay your dues" or "none of your business."

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship
For a manager, such responses are akin to lying to a friend. Like everyone else, millennials value trust in relationships in their personal lives. Unlike everyone else, they seek trust in their business relationships as well. It's another twist on millennial's signature character trait: blending personal and work life.

By not being forthcoming, managers undermine trust.

"I need the right balance of attention and trust," a millennial told Farris, while describing the kind of relationship they're looking for in a manager. "I do not want a manager that hovers and micromanages my every effort. However, I do want a manager that is accessible and open to discussing issues."


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