I was driving home the other day contemplating a challenge a friend of mine was having in her current organization. She works for a small company of about fifty employees and was hired onto a management team of about eight people. She’s the only millennial on the management team and immediately experienced challenges fitting in with her managerial coworkers. She’s considered leaving multiple times to join organizations with a younger demographic just so she would “fit in” better but has continued to stick it out. The question is… why is she experiencing so many challenges? Is it her fault?

As I analyzed what I believed to be her high-quality performance, her personality, the things she likely did coming into a new organization, I realized she is very similar to me. I get the term coined millennials is overly used and even in my own writings, I tend to write too much about millennials. The reason why is because I’m one of them and understand them. Millennials are different then your gen x-ers and baby boomers currently in the workforce ahead of us. In while millennials are extremely smart and have a lot to offer an organization, they can be challenging to manage. It’s important to cultivating a team that understands millennials’ personalities and how to work with them.

Three key characteristics of a millennial:

  1. Praise. They like praise. However, if done right you don’t have to do it in a traditional manner like telling everyone how great they did on a project. I have a boss that’s embraced my need for praise and makes jokes towards it. He bates me in ways where he knows I’ll say things like “I would be perfect for that.” He’s made it fun and it has met my need.
  1. Boredom. Millennials get bored easily. They need new projects. At my company, I’m constantly moving from one project to another. I work in marketing so it’s already a job function that moves very quickly and has different challenges daily. For individuals in a more professional services industry like law or accounting, engaging employees may be a bit more difficult. Give them specialty projects and give them challenges to problem solve even if you know how to solve it yourself.
  1. Growth. Not only do millennials like praise, they like feedback. Even if it’s not positive they want to hear how they can get praise. They also want to be the next CEO. Give them clear paths and let them know what to anticipate when it comes to career growth, opportunities and challenges. Be honest with them.

If managers can develop teams to welcome millennials especially in organizations that don’t have millennials, they will endure far greater success. If there isn’t a welcoming environment, they will move on to the next organization that will keep them engaged, not bored, and buy them coffee.