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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

5 Things You Should Do If You Work With Millennials

So, you have 30 years of experience. You wrote critical procedures that everyone at your office follows. So why is there suddenly a meeting to review a new system developed by someone who got out of college 3 years ago? And why are they leading the implementation?


The short answer is that change is an inherent part of growth. You’ve made huge efforts in your career and been a part of that growth all your working life, and now that change continues on into a new generation of workers.

It’s a little disorienting. The new age of work seems to be: technology first, conversation second- if at all. And doing things off the cuff without following a proven step-by-step process is risky.

I completely get it.

I am 57 with more than 30 years of experience, but somehow I found myself with 7 college grads on my team 3 years ago in various roles. I quickly realized that I had a choice to make, and not much time to make it. Either I would stick to my guns and allow the fear of the unknown to hold me back, or I could open myself up to a new way.

I chose to open up, and I am so glad that I did.


Over the past 3 years, my team has evolved. Not only because I established a clear vision and strategy, but also because I recognized the talent, intellect, and free thinking that my younger team members brought to the table. I respected their fearlessness. They questioned the status quo, and I wanted them to do that with me in their corner because they helped me to think out of the box. This shift created an atmosphere of high performance and team spirit that you can’t get by playing safe.

Here are 5 things you should do if you work with millennials.

Be open

Take comfort in knowing that that nothing is truly new under the sun. Let them try their new ideas and allow the results to speak for themselves. They may accidentally stumble into an appreciation for just why it has always been done like that, or their new method might generate actual results. Don’t be closed off to an idea just because it’s different.

Take risks

Don’t be afraid to promote an employee just because they’re young! I created an opportunity for a special global assignment each fiscal year. For that project, I choose a high potential millennial to go abroad for 3 to 6 months on a high-impact project. I promoted a young woman after only 2 years working for me. Some thought these risks of mine were dangerous, but they were calculated ones that paid off.

Keep them challenged

Routine is not a friend to millennials. They love to be challenged, and they excel when they are taken to task. So do that - give them meaty assignments with visibility and a defined scope. Then you can move them on to the next project. If you’re hesitant, a good compromise is to let your millennial employees manage projects with other millennials on that team.

Relax and let go – (sometimes)

There is no harm in scheduling team lunches or taking the group to a sporting event. Engaging in a relaxed environment fosters the team. Everyone likes to have a good time and let their hair down, not just millennials. Connection is key.

Know your worth and share your wisdom

Wisdom - such a powerful word! You can’t gain it with a degree, or create it in a lab, it only comes with time and paying your dues (as we baby boomers like to say). This is the value you bring to the table that’s entirely priceless. Share your insights, experiences, and lessons learned. Believe me, although they may not recognize it, they need to hear it. They’ll come back and thank you for it in five years.

Yes, change is inherent with time, and growth is a journey that is rewarding. With this new generation that is coming into the workforce, I don’t know of a more exhilarating, motivating, and satisfying ride. Join me in embracing the change! You won’t regret it.

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