How to be a supportive manager to millennials

It is no secret that keeping employees engaged is one of the challenges that face organisations. However, the levels of effort invested by organisations into addressing this challenge is few and far between.

While employers typically expect to have loyal and dedicated employees, the reality is, if there is no reciprocal investment in the relationships, then work dissatisfaction will occur. And, alarmingly, there is a growing percentage of millennials who are feeling unsupported and dissatisfied. The risk for employers is the loss of strong millennial talent and significant declines in workplace productivity and success. Resolving this issue is simple and starts with looking at management.

Managers have significant influence over an organisation – in particular, how an employee feels about their job. Having a poor manager doesn’t just make the lives of employees miserable but impacts adversely on the overall performance of an organisation. Millennials want great managers. People who can help them harbour their own goals, to help fulfil their “why”, to improve their professional lives and to feel supported and understood.

Here are five best practice management tips you can implement to be a better manager and get the most out of your millennial employees:

  1. Provide autonomy: Millennials want autonomy, not micro-management. They crave autonomy over what they do, when they do it, how they do it and who they do it with. Which is why they value—and seek out—flexible workplaces, and equally, leave workplaces which are too regimented.  
  2. Provide a sense of community: Millennials sense of community and work matters. They prefer to work as a team (rather than part of a hierarchical structure), value work friendships and being part of a positive, fun culture.
  3. Intertwine purpose. Passion and purpose are part of millennial makeup. Which is why they not just value the work they do, but a sense of purpose. Millennials want to make a difference and are strongly biased towards organisations who are making a social or global impact. Understanding their ‘why’ and providing a sense of purpose, matters. 
  4. Create opportunity: Millennials have a want for learning, discovery and opportunity. If they think something is going to give them new skills, add value to their lives or simply make them better people, they’ll dive in. Millennials also want to feel valued and that their career projection and wants can be fulfilled. Providing opportunity will also minimize of the risk of boredom – and disengagement.
  5. Give feedback. Millennials want feedback, encouragement, and support. They want to ensure they are doing things correctly, not wasting time and giving their level best to provide value.  They also want their efforts to be appreciated and rewarded – whether in time, flexibility, money or a simple thank you. Showing recognition will go a long way.

When millennial employees feel supported by their managers, levels of engagement will soar. Taking time to invest in building and establishing a healthy relationship between managers and employees will pay dividends; improvements in engagement, quality and organisational success.

Jacqueline Cripps, Management Consultant and CEO, JCL