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INSIGHT

Six tips for successfully managing Millennials

By Cheryl Toth, MBA bio

The Millennial generation – Americans aged 18 – 37,1 is the largest generation in U.S. history. Yup, bigger than the Baby Boomers, and 86 million strong. Next year, they’ll comprise 36% of the U.S. workforce, and by 2020, nearly half.2

I love working with this generation. I find them to be a diverse group of curious, collaborative, and fearless folks. Not only are they highly tech-literate and efficient, but they constantly challenge me by discovering new applications and tools, and suggesting innovative ways to use them.

But I’ve found that not all managers and colleagues share my perspective. Many are perplexed about how to manage and motivate their young employees. They describe with frustration their Millennial workers’ “entitlement” attitude, addiction to text, social media, and selfies, and disinterest in working hard to get ahead.

My advice: embrace the characteristics that make the Millennial generation tick, and manage from that perspective. The sooner you see things from the Millennials’ viewpoint, the more successful you’ll be. Here are six tips that can help:

1. Don’t expect a “mini me.” Comparing this generation’s habits, motivation, or work ethic to your own when you were their age is wasted energy. Before you disparage a young employee for not knowing the details of the Kennedy assassination, stop and think about the times you’ve struggled to rip a DVD to YouTube, understand your car’s navigation system, or asked, “what’s a QR code?” and a Millennial helped you out. The truth is, every generation grows up under a different set of circumstances and therefore sees things differently than the generations before it. Accept the fact that Millennials think differently than you do,and that this is not “bad.”

2. Give them structure. Millennials were raised in a highly scheduled and planned environment, and most of them prefer this at work. If your practice management style is “loose,” shore it up. Assign projects with deadlines. Follow a meeting agenda. Set clear and measurable performance goals, and assess performance. Most of these things should already be part of your practice management arsenal, but your younger employees will really appreciate them.

3. Communicate constantly. This generation got constant feedback and praise from parents, teachers, and coaches. If you have a “need to know” management style or are just too busy to connect with employees regularly, this may be a reason you have difficulty engaging your young workers. For Millennials, regular meetings are a must. Ad hoc, “check-in” conversations are even better. In fact, 80% of Millennials prefer this real-time feedback to traditional performance reviews.3 They take any kind of feedback – good or bad – as an opportunity to do better and grow. Try boosting the number of communication contacts, and see what happens.

4. Give them responsibility, but don’t abdicate. I hired an enthusiastic and capable 28 year old to help with a marketing campaign for a health and wellness app. She was brimming with ideas and took initiative. Some of her ideas and work outputs were brilliant. Others were naïve and simply inappropriate. Regardless of her enthusiasm, she still needed me to provide direction and teach her industry knowledge. A great strength of this generation is their ‘can-do’ attitude and desire to try new things. Their parents told them they could do anything, and they believed it! But they still need your guidance. Assign meaningful projects and Millennials will blossom. Just be prepared to provide oversight along the way.

5. Let them collaborate. Millennials’ education was steeped in teamwork. Grades and other achievements were based on how well they worked with others to optimize results. Encourage collaboration and socialization with this group and watch what happens. Task them with solving problems and addressing challenges as a group. ICD-10 implementation, EHR conversion, and marketing plan development are all good options for teams. If your practice is small, even a team of two enables the personal interaction that Millennials crave.

6. Foster professional and personal growth. 65% of Millennials said personal development was the most influential factor in their current job.4 Provide them opportunities for professional growth, such as sending them to a coding workshop or paying for a business class, but encourage personal growth too. Grant time off for personal projects. Allow time for completing volunteer tasks at work. And ask them to give an internal presentation about something they’ve learned – either personal or professional. A monthly “lunch and learn” allows Millennials to be recognized for their expertise or passions, and builds the knowledge base of your entire team.


1 “On the Rise,” Barron’s, April 29, 2013, http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424052748703889404578440972842742076.html#articleTabs_article%3D1

2 7 Surprising Ways to Motivate Millennial Workers, Forbes, Jenna Goudreau, March 7, 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/07/7-surprising-ways-to-motivate-millennial-workers/

3 Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace: The Who, How, and Why of Managing Gen Y, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Study, June 24, 2013, http://onlinemba.unc.edu/mba-at-unc-blog/geny-in-the-workplace/

4 Maximizing Millennials in the Workplace.


Cheryl Toth, MBA is a Generation X senior consultant and digital media professional with Chicago-based, practice management and training company KarenZupko & Associates. The firm offers regional workshops on coding, revenue cycle, and management topics for surgeons. More at www.karenzupko.com.


The above information is shared by a guest contributor and does not necessarily reflect the views of Medical Office Manager.

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