The winning formula to lead and manage millennials

The winning formula to lead and manage millennials

Katrina Barry, Managing Director of Contiki Australasia, shares her insights

BY Business Chicks, 5 min READ

By 2030, hyper-connected, tech-savvy millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. If you joined us for Katrina Barry’s Masterclass Online today, you’ll know that millennials aren’t lazy, disengaged or even ungrateful. With expert advice from the Managing Director of Contiki Australia, we wrapped our head around Gen Y culture and gathered our top takeaways on how to manage millennials.

1. Deliver their ‘why’, not yours.

Katrina advises starting looking at the ‘why’ of your business and refreshing it to be more meaningful for them. Gen Y is more socially aware than any other generation so, despite the arguably ‘special snowflake’ label, they care the most about gender equality, climate change, racism and other world issues. They need to know they’re making a positive contribution to society, with you. Perhaps then, you’ll score some boomerangs and gems. See: point 2!

2. Find and cultivate “boomerangs and gems”.

Yes, millennials switch jobs faster than you can swipe left on a creeper, but Katrina made a sobering note that this job landscape is simply “the new normal”. Leaders need to practice acceptance to be in the long run. Know that you’ll often lose, detach from your attrition rate, and play the long game to get boomerangs (good employees who leave but come back) and gems (the good ones who stay). This means over-investing in individual career planning and even keeping in touch with boomerangs via social media. Subsequently, Contiki’s engagement levels skyrocketed and the best ones always come back.

3. Leaders, step up or step off.

Remember the adolescent breakup saying “it’s not you, it’s me”? Well, if a millennial ever left you, Katrina says it’s you. Not them. A higher standard of leadership is required for managing millennials. Their tolerance is low for poor leadership, but they don’t know what that exactly looks like or how to talk about it. Katrina speaks to multiple leaders top down to get a bigger picture of how good of a leader one person is. Get individual leaders to commit to a standard of leadership, then measure and reward it. Katrina’s also tough on letting go of those who don’t step up.

4. Harness the pros and cons of flexible work practices with OAR: Ownership, Accountability, Responsibility.

Katrina makes sure everyone in the business holds an “OAR” – in other words, a sense of “me”. Her team has developed a clear-cut one-page business strategy that starts with their ‘why’, the strategy pillars, followed by how each individual person in the business aligns to that. The OAR is then cascaded throughout the entire company, where people will be rewarded for meeting targets or own consequences if something falls out of place. Millennials especially want flexible conditions and for her, what’s most important isn’t where they work from but that they understand their OAR and deliver the work they promise to.

5. Help millennials develop their own rules so that they enforce them and abide by it on their own. (And so you’re not the bad guy).

Remember that when you tell someone to do something, they’re not going to do it. So help millennials set rules and come up with their own goal so they hold themselves accountable. Katrina’s also diligent on bottom-up reviews as part of their annual strategy and planning processes. This means engaging with every single team member by getting them to present what worked, what didn’t work, and plan out the next year ahead.

6. Provide free lunch on payday, and have signs around the office saying stuff like ‘no cash or avocados are kept on premises’.

We laughed. Of course, what Katrina really means is speak their language.

Our Masterclass Online webinars are FREE for Premium members. We’ll be announcing our next three speakers VERY soon. Make sure you’re signed up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about our events. 

Read more:

What your CV should look like in 2018

75% of Millennials will leave their jobs within two years

How a Contiki holiday convinced Katrina Barry to join the company


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