Millennials demand top-notch management

The (digital) natives are restless

Oslo Business Forum

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Vessels
The digital native talent of millennials and GenZers make them attractive hires to businesses. But these generations have different expectations and aspirations than prior generations—such as their employers. Management must take proper steps in managing millennials and Generation Zers so the business and all employees can prosper.

Jennifer Vessels
Next Step

During the Oslo Business Forum in March, there were many discussions on characteristics of and how to work with the digital native talent of millennials and GenZers. To help companies and leaders challenged with gaining the greatest productivity and loyalty from young workers, Jennifer Vessels published an article for OBF on this topic. It originally appeared at

You’ve just hired a newly educated employee full of energy and promise. You believe they will contribute to your company’s growth. But how can you as a leader develop their talent?

Digitalization is a key imperative for 2019—with many companies investing in the recruitment of millennials and Generation Zers to gain digital competence and new ideas. While they bring innovative approaches, the latest generation also comes with high expectations.

From Next Step’s Silicon Valley perspective, we see that millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) play a key role for businesses to grow in the digital era.

Knowing their skills are coveted by startups, corporations, and consulting firms, millennials often approach new jobs asking, “How is this going to help me achieve my goals?” They expect self-fulfillment, challenge, and appreciation from managers and co-workers. Without these, they will leave. A recent Harvard Business Review study showed that over 30% of millennials quit within six months of hire and over 50 percent after 18 months.

Managers need to do the following to develop and retain millennial and Gen Z employees:

• Recognize their value by understanding each employee’s goals, showing appreciation, and rewarding their successes

Engagement starts with a warm welcome by leadership and co-workers—with lots of fun digital swag to say, “we are delighted you are here.” From day one, managers play a critical role in development. They must understand the employee’s career and personal goals and recognize progress.

Feeling valued by management and co-workers with small rewards for achievements is the most critical factor in any employee’s decision to stay or leave a company—with digital native talent this is more important, as they have many options available.

• Challenge them with interesting opportunities to have an impact

Millennials and GenZers are known for their desire to make a difference and for their impatience. They want to have an impact and grow immediately—otherwise, they will move on to alternative career options.

To gain commitment, work assignments must be aligned with their personal interests and passions. When they fully understand the company and department objectives and how achievement of these will impact the world AND their objectives, anything is possible.

• Empower them through clear goals, milestones, and check-ins

Digital natives have a lot of energy and high ambitions. They want flexibility and freedom in their work. However, they often lack the experience and context of situations to be successful if left on their own.

Effective empowerment means setting very clear, specific goals, outlining recommended approaches, planning key milestones, and regularly checking in on progress. In addition, regular meetings provide the manager with opportunities to recognize and reward accomplishments.

• Coach and mentor growth 

To achieve their high ambitions, digital natives want to learn, get feedback, and explore ideas with their managers, peers, and mentors. Mentorship programs and coaching sessions create lasting value.

When engaged, millennial and Gen Z talent can accelerate digitalization and innovation. However, to gain return on investment in these digital natives, managers must listen, develop, challenge, empower, and coach them. While this may require new leadership approaches, it pays off as all employees perform at higher levels when they feel valued, empowered, coached, and developed.

Read more about the Oslo Business Forum:

This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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