Managing Millennials

Mark Johnson

Mark L. Johnson is a marketing consultant and industry writer. He tweets at @mark-johnsoncomm and connects at

December 1, 2015

How is it going managing today’s younger generation on the job? Figured out what to say to Millennials—the young folks up to their mid-20s in age?

This month, let us take 3 areas that foremen say are not always easy to address with Millennials: being on time, meeting production schedules, and doing quality work. To help, I have turned to an expert, Dina Cipollaro-Beck, generational expert and trainer at Fundamental Training Solutions.

Help a Millennial to be Punctual

Suppose a Millennial worker shows up to work each day, but rarely on time. How can you correct his tardiness?

“I wouldn’t ignore the first time he is late. Absolutely address it right then,” Cipollaro-Beck says.

All people, more or less, tend to want to figure out their boundaries, but this is especially true of Millennials, Cipollaro-Beck says. Here is the 5-step solution, which should normally take 2 minutes:

  1. State what you have observed. “Hey, John. You’re 10 minutes late.” Then pause without saying a thing.
  2. Wait for a response. “Sorry, my cell-phone alarm didn’t go off,” John says after an awkward silence.
  3. Restate the goal. “John, I need you here on time because that’s what’s expected of you and because this team needs you.” Use the words “team” and “needs” to help the Millennial feel valued.
  4. Ask for his solution. “John, how do I know that you will be on time tomorrow?” He answers: “I’ll make sure my alarm is set earlier than it was today.”
  5. Agree on the solution. “You’ll set your alarm earlier? Perfect! I’ll see you tomorrow on time, now let’s get to work.”

On the next day, be sure to say, “Hey, John. Thanks for being here on time.” The acknowledgement is important, because Millennials want and need direct feedback.

“He’s waiting for the applause,” Cippollaro-Beck says. “If nobody gives him applause, then he’ll think that showing up on time doesn’t really matter.”

Challenge a Millennial to Work Faster

Say your Millennial is talented but works at a slow pace. Cipollaro-Beck says Millennials simply need to be challenged.

  1. Approach him at the beginning of the day. “Hey, John. Good morning. We’re going to have a good day. What do you think your goal can be for today?”
  2. Present the challenge. If the Millennial needs to do more, then the foreman can say, “John, I’d like to challenge you. I want to see if you can get this far by
    the end of the day. Do you think you can do it?” The key is to say it in a respectful way to Millennials. They do not like being talked down to.
  3. Check in midday. At lunch, for example, you could say, “Where are you at with your goal for today? Are you going to make it?”

Be sure you have good body language and a positive, optimistic tone of voice. Cipollaro-Beck says that body language represents 55% of your message. Voice tone accounts for
38% of your message. Only 7% is wording. So, when you challenge someone, you have to believe in them. Then, that confidence will be reflected in your posture and tone of voice.

Teach a Millennial to be Quality-Minded

Teaching Millennials to take pride in their work comes down to you—the crew leader.

  1. Set the example. What example do you give? A foreman must believe in his company. The company culture needs to be strong.
  2. Shower him with praise. As your Millennial crew member is working, and you see an outstanding quality in him, walk up and say, “That’s it! What you just did right
    there is going to set you apart from every other drywaller out here.”

Millennials need acknowledgement, Cipollaro-Beck says. But say more than the occasional “good job.” Remember, a Millennial needs to know that they nailed it. When they do something well, tell them they nailed it and add, “I can’t wait to see where your career takes you.”


Copyright Statement

For more information, see the January 2015 issue of AWCI’s Construction Dimensions, This article was published in the December 2015 issue of Insulation Outlook magazine. The contents of this website and Insulation Outlook magazine may not be reproduced in any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the publisher and NIA. Any unauthorized  duplication is strictly prohibited and would violate NIA’s copyright and may violate other copyright agreements that NIA has with authors and partners. Contact to reprint or reproduce this content.

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