4 Things Millennials Really Want From Their Leaders


Author: Tashania Morris

According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials are born between 1981 through 1996, and they are currently the largest generation in US Labor Force (Fry, 2018).   There are many articles written on how to engage and retain them in the workforce, some have even suggested that millennials are lazy and entitled.  The term millennial is often plagued with negative stereotypical connotations.  There is evidence to suggest that, “They want work to afford them the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and connect to a larger purpose.  That sense of purpose is a key factor in their job satisfaction” (Meister & Willyerd, 2010).  Is it possible that they are misunderstood?  Listed below are a few things that millennials want from their leaders:


Millennials want to be mentored by their leaders.  Unlike their parents, they want to get that promotion sooner than later and have no desire to wait 20 years for the gold watch.  If there is a gold watch, then they want it now.  Who can blame them?  They witnessed the 2008 depression and it impacted their sense of loyalty tremendously.  A mentor can provide a ton of insight about the organization regarding both formal and informal rules.

Providing reverse mentorship is a great way to get millennials to participate in mentorship programs, where both parties are benefiting from the relationship.  “The traditional mentoring relationship is based on the idea that a senior worker is sharing his or her expertise with a younger colleague.  A better approach recognizes that both generations of workers have much to offer each other” (Scorsone, 2015).


Employees can significantly improve their performance by being coached.  Since millennials are all about feedback, one on one’s are perfect for them.  They don’t want to wait to find out how they are progressing at the job, they want to know now.  Coaching is about supporting and inspiring your employees to perform at their best.  Really good coaches want to their teams to win, they build them up mentally and cheer them on.  Employees want to know their managers are willing to develop them whenever it is needed.  In a Harvard Business Review article, “Millennials want to be coached at work”, they conducted a global survey in partnership with Oxford Economics and found that 1,400 Millennials wanted more feedback from their managers (Willyerd, 2015).  The research revealed that, “Millennials want feedback at least monthly, whereas non-Millennials are comfortable with feedback less often.  Overall, Millennials want feedback 50% more often than other employees” (Willyerd, 2015).

Personal & Professional Development

Millennials want to know that their leaders authentically care about their personal and professional goals and are willing to develop them as needed.  They are seeking training and development on the job to advance their skills.  “An overwhelming majority (88 percent) of respondents said they would be willing to personally invest in their own skills training and professional development.  About one in three (31 percent) report that they seek out training on their own.  Another 20 percent indicated that their employers provide them with necessary training” (Mauer, 2015).  Most of them understand that their careers are not solely in the hands of their companies and are willing to take the responsibility to seek outside assistance if and when needed.

Understand that one size does not fit all

Millennials want their leaders to understand that one size does not fit all, that at the end of the day they are not all lazy and entitled.  Their desire for wanting a job with purpose and fulfillment is a part of effecting change in the world and making their mark.  They want their leaders to be able to adjust to the different generations that exist in the workplace.  Leadership must be ready to identity the multigenerational wants, needs, and value systems.  While this might be a bit exhausting, it will help to build a cohesive team.  Currently there are five generations in the workplace and in the end, everyone just wants to be respected and treated fairly.  It is essential that managers are self-aware.  They need to know how to manage personal bias in order to effectively lead a team and manage talent effectively.  Once you understand the value systems of the different generations you are more likely to lead objectively and fairly.

Author:  Tashania Morris, MSHRM, SHRM-CP, CDF, is an intern for IOD who loves all things HR.  Her personal mission is to empower, educate and promote change.  She can be reached at info@instituteod.com.

Attention Millennials!

If you or someone you know are new to HR, TM, OD, or L&D, and are interested in advancing your career opportunities, why not check out our OD Process Professional Certification Program (ODPC).  This program will help you gain the skills necessary to lead project teams, influence senior leaders, facilitate meetings, mediate conflict, build high performing teams, and grow your reputation as a working partner.  Our participants value the hands-on approach and tools they receive, in addition to genuine feedback, one-on-one coaching, and the many skills learned through practical experience.  Stand out from your peers as an OD Process Professional!

For more information about our certification programs and professional development workshops, visit our website www.instituteod.com or email us at info@instituteod.com.


Fry, R. (2018, April 11). Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/

Mauer, R. (2015, May 26). Millennials Decry Lack of Career Development. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/millennials-lack-career-development.aspx

Meister, C. J., & Willyerd, K. (2010, May). Mentoring Millennials. Retrieved from https://hbr.org: https://hbr.org/2010/05/mentoring-millennials

Scorsone, K. (2015). Passing the Batone. Leadership & Management Source, 38-39.

Willyerd, K. (2015, February 27). Millennials Want to Be Coached at Work. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/02/millennials-want-to-be-coached-at-work: https://hbr.org


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