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Advice for Working with Millennials: Mentor vs. Manage

Posted by Mary Ann Kelly

Danny Flamberg, Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis Kaplan Thaler is one of our favorite In Good Company people to watch. We’ve published topics from his blog before, such as: 5 Ways to Start a New Job and 7 Tips for New Managers.

Danny recently gave an interview on the 4 most effective ways to work with Millennials. Millennials are defined as being born between 1980 and the early 2000s… and often described as lazy, selfish, entitled, and needy.

Despite the negative stereotypes, an estimated 40 million of them are already in the workforce and by 2025 three out of every four workers will be a Millennial! Danny’s approach is mentorship, not management, to enable Millennials to realize their full potential. Here are his top 4 tips for Millennial bosses:

1. Transparency – On Day One, Danny provides new team members with “Operating Instructions,” e.g. an outline on what is expected of them and what they can expect from him. By doing this he is setting the tone from the beginning, eliminating vagueness or guesswork about goals, and encouraging the new team member to feel comfortable enough to discuss things openly.

2. Respect – Back in the earlier days of advertising, entry-level hires were expected to stay quiet during meetings and respect their superiors but now, respect is a two-way street.

In many agencies, it’s not uncommon for an intern sitting in on a brainstorming session to voice an award-winning campaign idea. If the environment does not offer this equal level of respect, these ideas may go unstated. The goal is to establish an environment where people are respectful of all ideas, regardless of seniority.

As Danny tells it, this is important because: “My generation is made up of digital immigrants, but Millennials are digital natives, they have a completely different understanding of how technology shapes human relationships. They expect immediacy and openness, and they have a deeply nuanced understanding of culture. In the advertising world, these things are an incredible source of competitive intelligence.”

3. Context – Providing an explanation about how a task ladders up to the overall strategy provides firmer context of the campaign or client goal. Keeping teams informed and attached to the big picture goes a long way. It makes Millennials feel they are contributing to something important, rather than completing unconnected tasks. And it lays the framework for more strategic thinking.

You may have logged enough years to recognize that everything has to get done, even if it means taking menial tasks in stride. Millennials haven’t yet developed that perspective.

4. Ownership – Allowing employees to own something early on is critical to professional development. Says Danny: “I give them projects that they can own, I don’t micromanage, but I do make my expectations clear. It’s empowering for young professionals, and it inspires them to find out just how good they can be.”

You can read the full Forbes article here.


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