Managing Millennial Employees Requires New Approach

Jared Wareham

September 20, 2018 10:07 AM
An investment in learning who they are, what their innate skills are, and why they reason the way they do is a wise managerial strategy. ( Drovers )

By Jared Wareham, Top Dollar Angus

If there is a topic that stands out above all else when discussing the management of employees and maintaining continuity within your workforce, it is the maligned millennial worker. They seem to be a bit of an enigma, and at times, a punching bag. No one can seem to figure them out or consistently connect with them.

While there are many outstanding individuals from this generation making significant contributions to our industry, it is their generation as a group that is brought up more than any other issue managers face. After listening to countless conversations about the average millennial worker and their “short-comings,” I’ll share a few insights that might be worth consideration.

imageFirst, as a manager, don’t fall into an assumption’s trap by projecting your persona onto others, millennials in particular. A conscious recognition that younger peers do not think like we do is important. Failure to establish this from the get-go will only lead to disappointment and detachment. You have to throw out all assumptions and start from ground zero.

Getting to know them could be huge with this generation. Many are not adapted to, or aligned with, the confines of regimented schedules and timetables in the traditional ways we are accustomed to through our life-training. An investment in learning who they are, what their innate skills are, and why they reason the way they do is a wise managerial strategy.

Talk With Them About Their Goals

Do it without assuming they know how to even set and attack goals. This might be a new skill that requires substantial professional development. Previous generations grew up earning most of what they had, therefore, they understood the value of advancement through goal setting, skill building and sheer effort.

On average, the millennial generation grew up during a period of significant change in average household income and generational wealth accumulation. Not having to “do without” could be a major contributor to the stunted development of those skill sets associated with learning how and why to work. A wolf pup learns why and how to hunt during long grueling treks for food with the pack. This process of learning through failure and triumph creates hardened, savvy hunters that never take a meal for granted. Perhaps this form of early imprinting has been lost and the key to being an effective manager moving forward will be linked to its resurrection.

As time goes on, I think we will learn that skill building in traditional areas of technology, dynamic thinking, information management and systems thinking need far less consideration than previous generations. In fact, those areas that used to be the prime focus of professional development for the last two generations could be very basic in nature to millennials and subsequent generations. The skill areas in dire need of development might revolve around what has been considered very basic to us: how to work, goal setting, effective non-instrument driven communication and simple leadership qualities.


Jared Wareham is general manager of Top Dollar Angus, the industry leader for genetic certification of top-end Angus and Red Angus feeder cattle, bred heifers and seedstock. You can email him at 

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