How to man­age mil­len­ni­als and all of your other age groups


ball-game en­tirely. They grew up play­ing with their par­ent’s mo­bile phones and tablets. Most week­ends I take my teenage neph­ews out of board­ing school and go for a pizza. Let me tell you, ev­ery Satur­day is a fun learn­ing day. For us as em­ploy­ers, should we concern our­selves with these dif­fer­ences? And if so, how do we han­dle these dif­fer­ences? For any re­la­tion­ship to suc­ceed, good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is es­sen­tial. Whether that’s in life or in busi­ness, be­tween em­ployer and em­ployee, the same rule ap­plies. The word ‘com­mu­ni­ca­tion’ is far reach­ing and has lots of in­ter­pre­ta­tions, forms and chan­nels. But in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with oth­ers, ex­pec­ta­tions have to be made clear. Then it’s up to the other party to choose to meet them, or not.

Sel­fridges is a large, Uk-based re­tailer with about 6,000 employees from over 100 dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties. You can just imag­ine the di­verse mix of age, race, faith, skin colour, gen­der and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. With such an eclec­tic mix of back­grounds, their her­itage, val­ues, be­hav­iours and ex­pec­ta­tions vary dra­mat­i­cally.

Nev­er­the­less, in monthly man­age­ment in­duc­tion for new man­agers, I would al­ways say, “we re­spect your cul­ture and your back­ground, but in the Sel­fridges cul­ture, this is what is ex­pected”. Now that doesn’t mean that it was a one-way street. As a mod­ern busi­ness, Sel­fridges has adapted its man­age­ment style and cul­ture to re­flect best prac­tices for em­ployee re­la­tions. But ex­pec­ta­tions were set and made clear from the start. Here is a com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor that has not changed through the gen­er­a­tions. These point­ers are built on a platform of open com­mu­ni­ca­tions and hav­ing rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tions ful­filled. ÷ 1. Tell me what you ex­pect of me. The role guide (job de­scrip­tion) and con­tract is the ba­sis for clar­i­fy­ing roles and ex­pecta- tions. But don’t just hand over a doc­u­ment — go through it and ex­plain in de­tail what is meant by it. And it doesn’t stop there. Over time, as the busi­ness needs change, con­tin­ued and open di­a­logue is es­sen­tial. ÷ 2. Give me the op­por­tu­nity and re­sources to per­form. Hav­ing agreed ex­pec­ta­tions, give the em­ployee both the cor­rect tools and the op­por­tu­nity to do the job. If there are ob­sta­cles in their way pre­vent­ing them from suc­ceed­ing, then sup­port them in re­mov­ing them. ÷ 3. Give me guid­ance when I need it. If the job en­tails new knowl­edge or skills, ar­range for ap­pro­pri­ate train­ing or coach­ing to speed up the learn­ing and con­fi­dence lev­els. ÷ 4. Give me feed­back on my ef­forts. As the em­ployee is go­ing about their du­ties, let them know how they’re do­ing, good or bad. This is par­tic­u­larly rel­e­vant for when they’re learn­ing. But a sea­soned em­ployee will also want to hear that too, if only now and then. ÷ 5. Re­ward me for my con­tri­bu­tion. This is not just about money. It’s about recog­ni­tion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for ef­fort and a job well done. If you dare say to your­self, “sure they’re be­ing paid to do it” then you’re def­i­nitely think­ing like the grand­par­ent of a baby-boomer! As lead­ers and man­agers, if we want to get the most from our peo­ple, we should look at our­selves first. A new style of man­age­ment is not just a phe­nom­e­non that ap­plies to mil­len­ni­als. It is en­tirely ap­pro­pri­ate that we adapt how we think, how we act, and what re­sources we use in our in­ter­ac­tions. Use of apps and so­cial me­dia show you to be a mod­ern com­pany and will help to at­tract some younger tal­ent. But it doesn’t stop there. You also need to fo­cus on the ba­sics listed here to re­tain your best peo­ple, re­gard­less of their age. Alan O’neill, au­thor of is manag­ing direc­tor of Kara Change Man­age­ment, spe­cial­ists in strat­egy, cul­ture and peo­ple devel­op­ment. Go to if you’d like help with your busi­ness

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