Dr. Jennifer H. Selke is an Educational Psychologist from U.C. Berkeley specializing in managing the Millennial workforce, improving employee retention and fostering job satisfaction. At SXSW, she delivered a talk entitled, “Millennials as Supervisors – Strategies for Success.” By 2020, 46% of the workforce will be in the millennial generation – many have been protected from failure, are comfortable challenging authority and the status quo and are now bringing these values into leadership and management roles.

We sat in on Dr. Selke’s presentation to see how we can best tap into their strengths and understand what types of training and mentorship this generation of leaders needs to be more productive and engaged in their work.

Selke notes that more than 25% of millennials expect to have six or more employers in their career, and offered several strategies on how to succeed whether you are a millennial managing others or an older generation managing millenials.

In what seems like a backward strategy, she recommends “managing them to leave,” regularly talking to them about what they want to do next, which helps them stay engaged with what they do at work.

Here are a few strategies she covered:

  1. Be “learner centric” – As milliennials are education-oriented, desire feedback and want to grow, individualize training to their needs, including life skills training that goes beyond specific job skills
  2. Apply strength-based management – People who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged on the job. Teams that focus on their strengths are 12.5% more productive. Try using tools like the Gallup Strengthsfinder to identify employee strengths and help them focus on them to maximize their potential. Make sure people are happy because they’re doing what they love.
  3. Find a coach or mentor at work – 35% of millennials report wanting to communicate with their boss several times a day, 10% in person. That can add up for a manager with many direct reports. Adding a coach can alleviate the time impact on a supervisor and give a millennial the attention they desire for deeper feedback.
  4. Set communication boundaries – Discuss when it is appropriate to email, IM, text and call. As millennials are so tech-connected, it’s important to help them understand what works best – and when – in the business world.
  5. “Work” after hours – Allowing for time to socialize with millennial employees outside of work creates better engagement.