Millennials are just too hard to work with



Millennials – Some of us will shrug and recount our frustrations when dealing with Millennials, while others have no problem working with them.  Are Millennials that difficult to work with?


As a psychologist, people believe that I know how people behave and as someone who uses social media (way too much), people presume I know Millennials well. Sorry to disappoint.


To be able to read someone like a book would be nice, but human personality can be a tad bit tricky (though sometimes books can also provide surprises!).  I do not have a magic wand, I use evidence-based methodologies to help determine how people behave, react, think and decide. As for my tech-savviness, I am just interested in staying connected with information, news and people, in doing so, if it makes me connect with Millennials and know their lingua franca, I will take that.


Why then am I writing this post? I have been asked on various occasions as to whether there is a silver bullet when working with Millennials – the simple answer is NO. Let me break this down.


I am not getting through to them


Let us be truthful, Millennials are not the only ones. In every organization, there is bound to be one person who is too set on his/her ways of doing things, ask the ‘why?’, thinking that they are better at their job (but in fact, they are not – Dunning-Krueger effect). As an organization or line manager, what should you do when it comes to working with Millennials?


Change your Mindset


You have already employed them. There must be good reasons they are working in your organisations. List them down. Look again at your interviewing notes as to what are the areas of development for them. This is an important thing to do when you are trying to get through to anyone (new or old employees or Millennials). This is because it will help you frame your intentions, message and instructions. Discard your ‘we have always ….’


Communicate – Lay down your objectives


Once you have framed what you want to say, be specific. If you require to follow up steps or work to be done, provide a timeline. Remember as these individuals will be new to the work environment and not knowing how things are done, be prepared to be there to provide support and guidance. Learning by doing is indeed a good way for accelerated learning but when it is done without proper guidance, learning becomes ineffective.


Communicate – Listen


It is important to have two-way communication to ensure both parties understand each other. Be open when listening to their concerns, their ideas and their frustrations as it can help you modify the way you convey your message, intentions, instructions. Let us be clear, I am asking you to be assertive but use a form of communication that will allow you to get through to the Millennials.




Knowing the values of your Millennials will help you determine a few things: motivation, dedication and emotional agility. All of us are driven by our own set of values and this, in turn, will help us decide what kind of actions to take. Why is it important? Look at the next point on Coaching.




This is important as Millennials will be looking for your guidance. This is not mentoring. Coaching will involve guidance, collaboration, being a soundboard, and providing encouragement to help the millennial achieve a common goal. Knowing the values they hold here will be useful as you can use their values to guide their behaviour, actions, dedication, decision-making.


Are Millennials hard to work with? Or are we simply not allowing ourselves to adapt to, and embrace, this unique group of talents.

Published by Dr Austin Tay

I am a Chartered Organizational Psychologist fascinated by how people behave, think, process, strategies and collaborate with others at work. I am passionate about helping individuals become psychologically flexible and move towards a value-based life. I am an advocate against bullying and harassment in the workplace. I am the founder of OmniPsi Consulting, and I provide consulting services in leadership development, leadership assessment, executive coaching, career transition management, training and workplace intervention. This blog is a platform where I share my observations, thoughts and opinions.

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