Here’s How to Manage Your Millennial Employees — Brilliantly

The 21st century workplace demands a new set of management skills.

In the not-so-distant past, work was confined to a building. Work was executed at a desk bound to a physical location.

If you asked someone who was in their car and on the road between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. where they were going, the most likely response was probably “work.” Work once was a specific location.

But now work is changing, and the shift from a fixed workplace to a more mobile one has redefined where and how we work. Work has shifted from a place to a space.

According to this fascinating study by Adobe, 87 percent of respondents said they check their work email at home. The study found Millennials are more likely to check work email outside of normal work hours, with 70 percent checking email while in bed. And now mobile represents 49 percent of all email opens.

More and more, we are squeezing work into the cracks of life: waiting in line for coffee, on our way to a meeting, even while on vacation.

Since our mobile life lets us work anywhere and anytime, it has become insufficient to manage people based on time spent in the office or at the desk. Instead, today’s managers must manage the results of an employee’s work on a task or project.

Millennials don’t view work as bound by time or space. In fact, 69 percent of Millennials believe office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis. Previous generations have defined company loyalty by tenure — how much time was physically spent at the office — but Millennials define company loyalty by impact: how meaningful was their impact?

Recently a manager of a remote team explained his shift from input to output management and had recently hired his first Millennial employee. The team would routinely log in at 9:00 am to start their work day, but the manager noticed the new Millennial employee consistently starting his day at noon. Frustration began mounting.

Was the new employee just lazy? Nope. Upon confronting the employee about his work hours, he learned the employee was working well beyond the conventional 5:00 pm end-of-day time, and was sometimes working as late as 2:00 am.

The manager had never considered alternate work hours and decided to allow the Millennial employee to work wherever and whenever that would enable him to produce his best work. The manager made the crucial shift from managing inputs (time logged in) to managing outputs (quality of work).

This manager isn’t alone. In fact, 72 percent of global businesses report that increased productivity is a direct result of flexible working practices.

So if you’re a manager ready to make the shift from managing time spent in seats to managing quality, here are a few tips.

  • Clearly communicate the desired output and provide real examples whenever possible.

  • Consistently communicate and set expectations of timeframes for deliverables.

  • Frequently deliver relevant feedback via collaborative technologies, such as Slack.

  • If necessary, schedule a recurring time where your team can collaborate in real-time (online or offline).

The modern workforce has shifted. So should your leadership.