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Managing Millennials? Focus on Improving 3 Key Work Skills


Earlier this month, SkillSurvey published the results of some extensive research into the merits of millennial job candidates. The survey observed 28,700 references for around 7,000 job candidates, the vast majority of whom were born after 1980. The conclusion? Millennials are “eager, dedicated people who score high on ethics and integrity.” But they’re not without their problems.

a blonde girl with a backpack following a young man up a trail in the woods

(Photo Credit: Christoffer Engstrom/

Speaking as a millennial, millennials are great. In fact, a recent article in The New York Times highlighted the good that millennials are doing in the world — including their 87 percent charitable giving rate. Sure, we look at our phones a lot, but that doesn’t mean we’re bad workers.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

But as every good boss knows, there’s always room for improvement. Based on the results of the SkillSurvey research, there are at least three prominent areas in which millennial workers can stand to improve. Let’s take a look.

1. Decision Making: Landing the Helicopter

Millennials have long been adjusted to hovering parents who were ready, willing, and able to make sure not a drop of non-hydrogenated corn oils or high-fructose corn syrups ever touched their golden palates. As it would appear, that’s at least in part led to a deficiency in independent decision-making.

It isn’t necessarily a hard skill to teach, but it’s one that managers need to be aware of. It’s your responsibility to foster an environment that fosters independent thinking, rather than stifling it. One of the quickest ways to do that according to Fast Company: hire more women.

2. Multitasking: Play Video While Making a Phone Call

In terms of our smart devices, multitasking is an essential quality for millennials. Phones that can’t run more than one app at the same time have their place back in the Mesozoic era.

But as it turns out, those same multitasking devices have contributed to our downfall as people are able to tackle more than one subject at once. For bosses who are frustrated by their employees’ inability to juggle multiple projects, the answer is simple: put the phones down. According to David Brooks, digital devices cause us to use our fluid memory, further impeding our ability to focus on the one thing we’re trying to focus on.

Customer Service: Dat Golden Rule Tho

Customer service skills, or lack there of, are going to be managers’ biggest challenge as they try and adapt to their ever-growing millennial workforce. We’re the generation of a sharing-economy; of unprecedented, immediate accountability — a.k.a. Google — and something called iMessage. When it comes to “treat others the way you want to be treated,” it’s not that we don’t understand: we just want to be treated differently than you do.

If you want a change, it’s going to take some serious time and attention.

Tell Us What You Think

Are your millennial employees exceptional workers, or placeholders on your wall of shame? Tell us your experience in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter!

Peter Swanson
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