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How 1 Manager Reduced Millennial Turnover by 50 Percent

This manager made these four shifts and drastically improved Millennial employee retention.

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BY Ryan Jenkins - 06 Mar 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

How do I manage blue-collar Millennials?

This is a question I get often when I am speaking and consulting with organizations in industries where they are struggling to fill industrial or skilled trade jobs with Millennials. Once they finally acquire Millennial talent, they are very interested in learning how to retain them.

In preparation for a recent keynote speech, I met with Rick (not his real name) who manages a team of Millennials who are technicians at a large construction and agricultural equipment dealership. Rick openly shared how he has successfully managed blue-collar Millennials and was able to improve Millennial turnover by 50 percent in six months.

4 Shifts to Better Manage Millennials


1. Replace managing with coaching

Rick found that the "my way or the highway" type of management that he relied on for years was not working with Millennials. Instead, Rick began favoring a leadership style of coaching. The most effective coaching happens when leaders prioritize curiosity over instruction. Resist the urge to give advice and instead give in to asking more questions.

Rick also abandoned micro-managing. Instead, Rick allows more margin for his Millennial workers to fail. More failures equate to more opportunities for coaching. (Read this for three effective steps to coach the next generation.)

2. Anticipate the boomerang

Rick realized his perspective on exiting and returning Millennial employees needed to shift. Instead of holding a grudge and viewing former employees as damaged goods, Rick realized the opportunity for turn boomeranging Millennials into the company's strongest ambassador. Because Millennials are young in their careers and might have limited experience, they may be unaware of how green the grass is currently under their feet.

Rick is now committed to executing exit interviews and leaving the door wide open for Millennials to boomerang back. (Read this to learn ten questions to ask during an exit interview.)

3. Adjust feedback frequency

Like so many other leaders, Rick was faced with the reality of Millennials desiring more feedback at work. In fact, Millennials want 50 percent more feedback than other employees. Rick made tweaks to his schedule and communications to ensure he interacts daily via face-to-face, call/text, and/or email to provide the necessary correction or direction his Millennial employees need to perform.

Rick also participates himself in the increased feedback by soliciting routine anonymous feedback from his team. (Read this for a strategy for delivering feedback to Millennials.)

4. Rethink quality candidates

Rick decided to stop discarding the resumes where Millennial candidates had multiple jobs over just a few years. As work cycles continue to spin faster in today's fast times, job hopping is no longer the red flag it once was. Hopping into the same job over and over is the new red flag.

Rethinking the qualities of an ideal candidate and looking at resumes with a fresh perspective, has enabled Rick's pool of qualified candidates to expand. Rick narrows the talent pool by having candid conversations with candidates via phone or Skype early in the recruiting process. (Read this to learn how to use video to recruit Millennials.)

As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.

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