How to lead the millennial workforce

Photo of leaders and millennials
By Alex Burden, Professional Development

25 May 2017

Much has been written about how to lead millennials and effective directions, but what does it come down to in practice?

In a video by Vanderbilt University on how to get the most from millennial and 'Gen Z' employees, Cherrie Clark, Professor of the Practice of Management at the Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, emphasises that the days of once a year feedback are leaving newer generations out in the cold.

How to get the most from Millennial and Generation Z employees (Vanderbilt University)

In a time of constant communication, the emphasis is on continual feedback, and the older leadership style of annual reviews is not aligned with the needs of today.

“When millennials are passionate, there’s no one better. They work hard. They work all hours of the day. But if they are not passionate, good luck with that,” commented Cherrie.

She advises that millennials are used to receiving feedback every half hour, in the form of likes, retweets and follows, and to lead these younger generations your own coaching skills need to be attuned to this fact.

Jared Freeman, CEO of the Alabama State Employees Credit Union, and a millennial himself supported this idea in an interview with Forbes.

“Millennials thrive on acknowledgement and affirmation that we are doing something that makes a difference,” he said. “Leaders have to do a better job at engaging millennials to feel like they’re making a difference.”

The back and forth of business

A frequent exchange of information can be empowering for this rapidly-growing sector of the workforce, and allow for an understanding of their reach of their role and how it impacts wider business.

By engaging and committing your workforce to the company's overall vision, you set the stage for retention. Gallup research also found that millennials are more likely to stay with a workplace when they receive regular feedback.

To adapt to a world in constant motion, your leadership skills need to keep pace.

Their report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, emphasised the importance of this new leadership style:

"Millennials don’t want bosses — they want coaches. The role of an old-style boss is command and control. Millennials care about having managers who can coach them, who value them as both people and employees, and who help them understand and build their strengths."

To adapt to a world in constant motion, your leadership skills need to keep pace. If you are an executive or senior-level manager and new to the world of coaching, then an executive coach can help you prioritise the right skills development and goals for leadership of all generations.

Leading Figures, experts in coaching and consulting for finance and business professionals, have produced the ICAS Masterminds Executive Coaching Programme to promote innovative thinking and accelerate the career growth of CAs.

Future cohorts commence from 21 September in Edinburgh and 26 September in London. An early bird booking rate is available until 31 August 2017. Spaces are limited to eight places per cohort – so book now to avoid disappointment!


  • Career development
  • Leadership and management

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