Harnessing the Power of Millennials

The do’s and don’ts to managing up-and-coming employees

Millennials, as the largest generation ever, are settling into the workforce in greater and greater numbers. They bring with them savvy technology skills and a heightened sense of global connectedness that affords them a unique vantage point to the world of business.

“They’ve been groomed to go out and reach the stars. And, they believe they can and know they will,” says 26-year-old Kimberly Jones, eCommerce marketing manager at Ennis Inc., a global producer of printed business products and apparel.

Jones, along with John DeMarco, west regional manager for Glatfelter who manages a six-member sales team with multiple generations represented, offer the following tips when supervising millennials.


Listen. Millennial employees have a lot of ideas. Act on their contributions whenever possible.

Provide structure. Millennials want to understand what the assignment is and how success is defined. Set clear and collaborative job roles and performance expectations.

Encourage. Rather than telling them specifically how to do a task, listen to employees’ ideas and help steer them in the right direction with support.

Leverage teams. Millennials shine in team settings. Involve them in special projects—or cross-functional teams—where they can contribute unique perspectives.

Paint the big picture. Draw connections between the work they are doing and how it helps the organization as a whole achieve its overall objectives.

Offer opportunities to advance. After 18 months of solid performance, millennials are ready for more responsibility. Consider smaller, more frequent steps to higher-level positions.


Expect that work life will be their only life. It’s not that millennials only want to work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. They simply want to work hard and go home to a variety of other interests.

Bore them, ignore them, or trivialize their suggestions and contributions. Millennials like being challenged, sharing ideas, and knowing their contributions are making an impact.

Be anything less than truthful. Millennials don’t crave transparency; they demand it. They’re unlikely to put up with a manipulative boss or shady business practices, preferring to work for organizations that are open, honest, and valuable to society.