Gen X Bosses vs. Millennial Employees - Part 1

A lively panel, "Millennials Speak Out: How to Manage the Gen X Boss," at last month's SXSW conference exposed the antagonistic attitudes between Gen X bosses and their Millennial direct reports. At the heart of this conflict are two distinct sets of generational values, motivations and behaviors that have become contentious, critical obstacles to performance and retention.

Here are some strategies for Gen X bosses to manage their Millennial employees more effectively:

Stay Connected:  Connected to parents and peers through close personal relationships and social media, Millennials are successful when they have an ongoing support and feedback system at work. 
  • Connect frequently with Millennials using 2-minute debriefs or email/IM check-ins to answer questions and provide feedback.
  • Mentor Millennials to offer guidance and reinforce company culture and norms.
  • Take time to recognize Millennials by name on a daily basis.
Make it Meaningful:  Millennials want work to benefit society. They are more likely to perform (and less likely to quit!) if they feel their work has meaning and is connected to a bigger picture. 
  • Explain the “why” behind your decisions - Don’t wait for them to ask!
  • Acknowledge Millennials’ work and its significance to the overall project/company. 
  • Provide (and participate in!) social activities to foster community.
Enable Teamwork: Millennials are peer oriented and likely to feel isolated and disengaged from their work when they can’t collaborate with their boss. 
  • Promote cross-functional teamwork and communication to complete assignments.
  • Include Millennials in brainstorming and goal setting sessions for their projects.
  • Provide technology to connect Millennials to their network and information.
Part 2 of this series will focus on providing strategies for Millennial employees to manage their Gen X bosses more effectively.  Stay tuned!

My whitepaper, Gen X Bosses vs. Millennial Workers – The Contentious Divide, addresses this topic in depth and provides targeted solutions for Gen X bosses and Millennial employees for improving performance and retention. Feel free to download it or contact me directly for more insight and guidance.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group
Workforce Strategies for the New Economy