All I Want for Christmas is the “Magic Formula” to Lead Millennials?



Many of my Generation X and “Boomer” clients would like to receive a special Christmas gift this year – one that won’t fit under their tree:  the “magic formula” for leading Millennials.

By 2020, one in three American adults will be a Millennial (born between 1980 and 2003). By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be Millennials and this year, they have become the largest segment of the workforce.

According to Deloitte’s “Millennial Survey 2016,” only 16% believe they will be with the same company 10 years from now; 35% will leave within 2 years and 26% within one year.  With those depressing statistics, it’s no wonder that so many leaders complain that Millennials hold their personal values above those of their employers.

So how in the world do you lead this group of “disloyal” and “self-centered” workers?

My initial reaction to my clients’ concerns was an outpouring of empathy. I told them that I could only imagine how difficult it must be to relate to this “me” attitude of entitlement. As more and more of my clients throughout the US began to seek my help on managing this new generation of workers, I decided to dig deeper into what makes them “tick.”

It seems that countless Millennials have bolted from their jobs faster than Santa “sprang to his sleigh!” However,  when they believe they are in a “great” environment, they are 25 TIMES more likely to stay. The good news is that leaders can help facilitate the process of reaching that status of “great” in the minds of Millennials.

How do Millennials define a “GREAT” organization?

  1. Clear values that they support. Deloitte reported that 41% of Millennials have rejected job offers when they felt the corporate values were in conflict with their own.
  1. Sense of purpose. Are they doing work that is worthwhile? Sixty percent of Millennials stated this as the reason why they chose their employers.
  1. Leaders that challenge, engage and provide opportunities for development. Millennials don’t want annual performance reviews; they want weekly meetings with consistent feedback. A recent Gallup poll revealed that only 21% of Millennials and 18% of non-Millennials meet with their managers on a weekly basis. The majority of employees stated that they meet with their managers less than once per month (56% for Millennials and 53% for non-Millennials).


Wow! How can these Millennials be so “inconsiderate” as to make such demands! To all you Millennials… please accept my sincere apologies. To you, I say the following:

It has been almost two decades since we wrote the first edition of The Disney Way, and I assure you that your workplace demands are a central focus in the material presented.   In the second and third editions, we documented more than a dozen organizations (including manufacturing, healthcare, government and hospitality) that embrace many of your values and needs.

So, to leaders who are wondering how to lead Millennials, let’s “put first things first” (as Dr. Stephen Covey preached); in this case, that means to stop calling these folks “Millennials”, as if they had a social disease! They have the same needs as all workers of all generations.   The only difference is that they are the first generation to jump ship if their needs are not fulfilled.

Here are the three steps that will help nurture our “future leaders”:

  • Communicate the organization’s vision and values.

“When values are clear, decisions are easy.” Roy Disney

  • Identify and communicate codes of conduct that will support the organization’s vision and values.
  • Champion the creation of individual development plans. Insist that all leaders (supervisors, managers, directors who have direct reports) have weekly five-minute stand-up meetings with each employee to discuss their development plans and progress.

Hats off to our “future leaders”… your talents are needed to spawn a new paradigm in the world of organizational culture!

May you all have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!


Our New Year’s Weekly Chat will be January 9th: Stop the Commodity Mentality!