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Managing Millennials – Attracting, Leading and Managing Younger generations in your business


March 25, 2021 / fbcadmin

Kerrie Sheaves
Foundational Business Centre
1300 SML BIZ

Managing Millennials and GenZ

Managing Millennials

Attracting, Leading and Managing Younger generations in your business

In late 2020 the team at Foundational Business ran our Managing Millennials and GenZ online seminar, as part of our Foundational People Management Program. The day had a great line up of speakers covering all aspects of Attracting, Leading and Managing Younger generations in your business.

There was so much great content, that covered tactical and practical guidance and information for business owners and people managers, that we have turned these sessions into a series of videos. You can now access these though our new Foundational Business YouTube Channel for FREE. So even if you missed the conference or did attend and want to recap on all the great wisdom shared by the speakers you can listen at your leisure.

Access the Video Series – CLICK HERE

Before and after the conference we also quizzed our speakers on the things that they felt were important for people managers of Millennial (people aged 25-35) and GenZ (people aged 11-25) employees to embrace as part of their business culture.

We have captured those insights for Managing Millennials below to help you attract, lead, and manage younger generations in your business.

10 Questions and Answers for Managing Millennials and winning!

1. What is the unique selling advantage of every business?

People first, not consumer first. Your people are your unique selling advantage so this order of priorities matters, says Karen Lawson (former MD of Spotify Australia & New Zealand). If we get the culture inside the business right, people feel valued and listened to and encouraged to contribute to the success of the business, then the customers will be taken care of by people who are invested in the business and want to meet the customer’s needs.


2. What if the business is not sexy, or environmentally friendly?

What can you do to ensure people are on board with your mission, vision, and values?

The goal is to connect employees with your businesses Moral Purpose.

A moral purpose is defined as “a value that, when articulated, appeals to the innate sense held by some individuals of what is right and what is worthwhile.” Increasingly for younger generations of people, it is essential to have a moral purpose in the workplace

Karen Lawson (former MD of Spotify Australia & New Zealand) shared some tips on how to do that in your business:

    • Provide Benevolence opportunities and invite employees to submit ideas and have a process to enable execution.
    • IP sharing processes.
    • Connect people deeply to your purpose.
    • Align the businesses moral purpose to KPI’s.
    • Have an Authentic ‘ideas box’.

3. Why are Millennials and GenZ’s leaving and leading so many new start-ups?

They’re solving problems you won’t solve. Many businesses don’t realise that your competition is the people who leave you. But if you’re staying close to the pulse of your business and its culture and employees you shouldn’t be blindsided when this occurs. Use regular feedback, data and reports to provide meaningful intelligence that allows you to learn and adapt to stop you missing great opportunities.

4. How could a small business with limited ability to promote young people, keep them engaged and employed with them?

Both Rebecca Doherty (People & Culture Manager at Phocas Software) and Karen Lawson (former MD of Spotify Australia & New Zealand) shared in their Seminar Q&A sessions the common processes that they are using in smaller and larger businesses to help engage and retain young employees without promoting them and creating extra job hierarchy. You can use these too in your business:

    • Provide them with rapid learning experiences. Grow skill sets through learning opportunities.
    • Create squads and short term teams to solve/create (rather than job roles or promotions).
    • Participation in broader teams and working from different areas of the business (project teams)
    • Collaboration and time swapping with other businesses. This can provide varied opportunities to experience and learn and it also gives your business access to other resources you don’t have.
    • Give them opportunity to collaborate with external providers, and network with communities of other people/peers in same industry or interest areas.


Dominic Nair (Talent Multipliers) also suggests that when Managing Millennials you reward people over shorter periods of time. And that your business has a balanced approach to pay structures and personal and professional time. Not everyone is motivated by money, or only money. But some people maybe, so tailoring your rewards to the individual matters. Therefore, as you grow and when you’re managing lots of people, leave it to managers to move as they see fit within a high-level framework.


5. How do we help older generations of workers adapt to working with youngers workers?

There is a big opportunity for upskill younger team members to assist growth through deliberately leveraging older workers as a knowledge base that can add value to multigenerational teams.

Rebecca Doherty (People & Culture Manager at Phocas Software) shared that in their business they work towards helping older workers becoming more open minded, and aware of the development opportunities (like those above) that they might not wish to partake in themselves, but their teams can take advantage of.


6. Why are Millennials and GenZ expectation of ‘going rates’ so far from realistic? Has COVID impacted individual packages?

Robert Briffa (Synergy People) shared that most millennials have higher salary expectations than their value. The internet has helped them to be more aware of industry salaries but they are not considering that the higher rates are awarded to people who have a longer track record of applied experience, not just textbook knowledge. As a recruiter they have found that COVID has not had a significant impact on salary packages.

To young employees, the package is more than money. Businesses aren’t doing enough research on current ‘going rates’ and therefore, are often out of touch with marketplaces.  Especially as they are basing their rate on what they currently pay existing employees.

What non-monetary things does your company offer to attract employees? (e.g. flexibility, social opportunities, advancement programs, training). Once you’ve defined these you need to work out how to embed these in your business practices, so they happen.


7. Should you engage with your employees in a social way, is it a do, or a don’t?

This was common question about Managing Millennials from our conference attendees that our team of speakers provided the following responses to.

Robert Briffa (Synergy People) says: “Humans are social. Hence, social engagement is necessary. However, it does not have to be at the bar. It can be as simple as having lunch or a coffee with staff or individuals. I find it best to talk about what is happening in their life outside of work. The more people know and Like you, the more they will be engaged with you.”

David Leahy (Great People Inside) says: “My view is the starting point is ensuring that as a manager/owner you are self-aware of which role you are in at work social events. What is the reason for the event, and what is your objective. For example, are you in the role of “friend” with the objective becoming closer with the employees on a personal level perhaps with the objective of retaining the employee. Or are you in the role of Manager/owner where the objective is to reward the employees for a job well done and to build the team spirit?

Social events are a great way to build relationships within teams. But they can be challenging to manage as the lines between work and play sometimes become blurred, unless the reason for the event has been clearly communicated in advance.”


8. I’ve been disappointed by some of the Millennials I have hired that have seen the opportunities they have been provided with as additional work, that is not part of their KPI’s.

How I can motivate them?

This was another great question from one of our conference attendees that our team of speakers provided the following responses to.

Robert Briffa (Synergy People) says: “This depends on if you will be judging them on the ‘opportunity’ work and their ‘normal’ work. If they are only judged on the ‘normal’ work, then you are setting up competing activities. And only one is one the real score board.

We have a saying in our business; ”If you are asked to paint the fence and you tell me you have mown the lawn, you better have painted the fence first”.


David Leahy (Great People Inside) “The first step is ensuring the people you hire regardless, of the generation, “fit” to your organisation culture and the traits required to be successful in the role .

This can be achieved, if you are not already doing so, by adding behavioural assessments to your recruitment process. Adopting this approach will ensure you have a robust process whereby you match the precise behavioural traits you are looking for with a benchmark that reflects the expectations you have for the role and the individual.

Not doing this tends to result in us learning 3- 6 months down that track that the person you hired doesn’t possess the traits needed to be successful in this role in your organisation.

For existing team members again, I would recommend conducting a behavioural assessment to learn why the behaviour you describe is happening. The same process of understanding fit and comparing their traits to your organisational benchmark will apply.

Once you have done this you will then understand why. And using a benchmarkable customisable tool, such as our GPI assessments, will provide you with clarity as to whether coaching the individual is an appropriate intervention or whether it is best to separate due to lack of fit.

Generally, people “fail” in a role not due to their technical skills, but because as we often hear ourselves saying “they just didn’t fit”. Which is reflective of their behaviours.

Approaching Managing Millennials or any people decision armed with little more than our gut feel is not good enough. We need to tilt the balance in our favour using validated objective data to make sure we give ourselves the best chance to make the right selection, re deployment or promotion decision.”



9. Loyalty to your business will be based on the environment you provide and how you paint the picture of culture – How can you make sure everyone is onboard?

Rebecca Doherty (People & Culture Manager at Phocas Software) suggests considering the following ideas when Managing Millennials:

    • Talent Mapping – identify who are your rising stars/high impact performers and those that are not. Then determine what to do with those lagging behind and how to continue to motivate high performance.
    • Design Personalised Development plans for everyone.
    • Leadership development and understanding how they are “showing up”.  They impact culture significantly in your business, so if a person doesn’t realise how their style is impacting this can be damaging and undermines your desired culture.
    • Share, Communicate, and share some more your business strategy. Your teams need to understand and feel connected to it. Be transparent with what is going on so doubt/fear does not creep in and enable feedback loops. This process can support the development of ownership, passion/loyalty to your business.


10. Why do Millennials and GenZ employees leave your business?

Rebecca Doherty (People & Culture Manager at Phocas Software) says there are lots of reasons people leave your business, many of them personal needs based. However common reasons Millennials and GenZ employees leave a business that are solvable include:

    • Lack of opportunities to advance and grow. Lack of Purpose and Flexibility.
    • Competitive “packages” offered by other businesses (e.g. share options, education opportunities etc.).
    • Technologies available – Millennials grew up with internet and the advancement of smart devices. If your business have them working on older style laptops/devices/systems that are slow, lack innovation, create roadblocks for efficiencies, they won’t stay as they can see you’re not investing it the future of your business.
    • Culture Alignment – Millennials and GenZ Employees seek Inclusion, High Trust, Collaboration, working for a cause higher than themselves. They also want flexibility (COVID has certainly fast-tracked changes in this for some industries). They want to work for businesses with a sense of Community Responsibility, and a Company values align with theirs.
    • Lack of autonomy/trust – unmet expectation collaboration and involvement. To achieve this you need to invest in creating processes & systems that allow you to delegate and manage through accountability structures. But give people flexibility to work towards outcomes rather than uniformity.
    • Failure to recognise that 1 year is a long time in the Millennial world. There are lots of entertainment choices, therefore short attention spans. The On Demand world is the Normal they know.

You can find lots more terrific insights from our panel of fabulous speakers through our conference videos HERE

How do you effectively Manage Millennials and Gen Z workers in your business?

Based on a 2019 Deloitte Report Millennials and Gen Z are no longer the ‘future’ workforce, they are the present, making up more than 40 percent of Australia’s working population.

The days of Command-and-Control leadership are over, Younger Generations of employees do not respect titles, when Managing Millennials you have to earn their respect. They expect collaboration and involvement in decision making as a day-to-day practice.

So how do you maintain control and give direction, and gain respect for your authority as a business owner or manager and tick these boxes as well?

Whilst our Gen Z and Millennials are often well-educated people, there is a lot of negative press about Millennials as difficult employees. However, there is very little practical information available to business owners and managers of growing companies that can assist them in getting the best out of their Millennial workforce.

Some companies are even avoiding hiring Millennials because it is “too Hard”.

Younger generations of workers value different things. Work differently and expect different outcomes from their careers and work environments. Different is not bad or better – different can be a huge advantage to your businesses growth strategy if you learn how to harness its power.

You can find lots more terrific insights from our panel of fabulous speakers through our conference videos HERE


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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