“As written by a millennial”: Characteristics we seek in a supervisor

“As written by a millennial”: Characteristics we seek in a supervisor

Millennials, Gen Ys, Digital Natives. Call us however you like, but know that we are an impending force that is going to enter the workforce in full swing, whether you like it or not. Thus, it’s in your best interest to learn on how to impart your leadership role onto us before we grow into an unruly headache. A title no generation deserve to carry over their shoulders. We are more than willing to listen, if you are willing to meet us half-way.  


  • Communicate openly and honestly: We millennials grew up feeling as if the world is in our hands. The speed and ease of creating and maintaining connection with our friends cause us to expect the same thing to happen in our workplace. It has been shown that we millennials have greater social needs, tighter peer bond, and stronger team orientation when compared with other generations. Don’t be fooled with the existing stereotype which said that millennials are solitary beings. We do think that teamwork is an essential factor in accomplishing better outcomes. We love working in a team. A healthy and well-functioning team, that is. Being able to collaborate in a dynamic environment with our same-aged coworkers and an inclusive supervisor that doesn’t limit information flow would be an ideal workplace situation for millennials.


  • Treat us with respect: Isn’t this supposed to be the natural way of running things in the workplace? Just like any other age group, we millennials hope to be seen without any negative bias. Supervisors should remember that we are more likely to express our thoughts and ideas without being intimidated by others’ status. We want to be seen as your equals, so to speak. So, please do not quickly jump into the negative conclusion that millennials are rude. Or worse, socially inept. With a little guidance on how to deliver our opinions, we promise we are able to refine our behaviors and be seen as bold and courageous by our coworkers of any generations.



Recognize our contributions: Our parents told us we can reach for the stars. But then they let us go into the real world and the stars turn out to be something a billion light years away, and we have to settle with being called as the generation that is “addicted to validation, instant rewards, and constant positive gratification.” But although I hate to admit it, this is one stereotype that I personally, truly live and breathe. Millennials like nothing more but to be given feedbacks and be seen as trustworthy. We want to feel as if we matter, after being woken up by reality and realizing that changing the world isn’t as easy as we thought it would. Recognition doesn’t always mean we want tangible or monetary rewards. Recognition can easily come from supervisors that want to actively listen and acknowledge our inputs. They’re all golden nuggets in showing your appreciation to the millennial generation. Giving us real-time constructive feedbacks outside of annual reviews and trusting us with more substantial workload will make us feel that our presence is essential in the running of the company.


  • Help us learn: We might think that school is a drone (don’t we all?). But that doesn’t mean we think that learning is boring. All we need is an opportunity to pursue things that interest us and you get yourself a super-absorbent sponge that’s more than ready to soak up any new, useful information. Give us the chance to tackle diverse tasks with our team. Provide interesting training program and development plans. Satiate our desire for constant self-development and you’re in the path of having a happy millennial in your team.


Sets a good example: How do you expect people to follow your lead if you don’t provide them with a good and respectable example? This point doesn’t only apply to dealing with the millennials. Good leaders are those who lead by example. By walking your talk, you become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing but do another, they risk losing the trust of their people and failing to create a productive working environment. Give your people the reason to have confidence in your leadership ability, no matter which generation they were born in.


  • Demonstrate interest in the personal lives of people on your team: As I state before, we want to be seen as your equal. Not only that, millennials are a generation that grew up with a closer, more informal relationship with their parental figure and authorities, that they bring with them a more informal style of communication. Accommodating to that by making time for informal conversations with your team may bring them closer together and warm up their relationships. This might be achieved through annual outings or club activities that cater to their interest. Give us the chance to show our individual characters and natural talents, make us feel as if we’re more than just a name in your call sheet. But of course, this should be done in a respectable manner. Nobody likes to think that someone is inappropriately probing at their personal life.
 Also, being seen as “lame” or “trying too hard to be blend with the kids” might cause us to no longer look at you as an honorable leader.  


Bottom line is: no matter which generation your team belongs to, employees have the biggest desire to work with a leader who is a person of integrity and sincerity. As a supervisor, the little tweaks that you need to add in your leadership method in order to accommodate the millennial generation shouldn’t be seen as a burden. Because according to a recent report, millennials could become the most productive generation. But that can only happen with the right combination of management and motivation. Give us what we need and you’re in the path of creating the golden generation.  




Chou, S. Y. (2012). Millennials in the workplace: A conceptual analysis of millennials’ leadership and followership styles. International Journal of Human Resources Studies, 2(2). 

Heathfield, H. S. (2017, November 8). 11 tips for managing millennials. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/tips-for-managing-millennials-1918678 

Igniting millennial engagement: Supervising similarities, distinctions, and realities [White paper]. (2015) Dale Carnegie Training.  

Twenge, J. M., & Campbell S. M. (2012). Who are millennials? Empirical evidence for generational differences in work values, attitudes and personality. In E. S. Ng (Eds.), Managing the new workforce: International perspectives on the millennial generation (pp. 1-19). Northampton, Massachussetts: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc. 



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