The Millennials
April 30, 2009 - 2:18pm
“When it comes to coaching, Millenials are looking for feedback.”

Residential Lighting: Who are the Millennials, and where do they fit in today’s workforce?


Dina Cipollaro: For the first time in modern history, four generations of workers exist side-by-side. We call them Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. There are 80 million Millennials, and they range in age from seven to 27. You will be working with them for decades.


RL: Do Millennials have special needs?


DC: While possibly the brightest generation of all time, Millennials are sensitive and used to being coddled. They had busy childhoods that lacked lessons on hard work and performance. By growing up with text-messaging technology and online networking, such as MySpace and Facebook, they crave communication and accolades.


So, when it comes to coaching, Millennials are looking for feedback. They want to know how they’re doing. It could be as simple as saying, “Great job interacting with that customer. I saw that they were difficult, and you handled them well by remaining calm and really paying attention to their concerns.”


RL: What’s the best way to interact with Millennials?


DC: My no. 1 [piece of] advice is to have day-to-day communication with Millennials. Set aside time each day to bond with members of this group. It could be a 10-minute conversation, or it could be a two-minute conversation. The key is to acknowledge their presence.


Always provide constructive feedback. Base what you say on evidence. Millennials want to know why they should do something and why certain policies exist. If you can’t explain your policies, then consider changing them. Millennials are not afraid to disagree.


RL: How can we retain them as employees?


DC: By having lots of career-path talks. Millennials want to build “parallel” careers. That means they want to acquire skills today that can take them where they want to go tomorrow. Explain how what they’re learning now can help them reach their goals. You keep Millennials onboard by showing them that they’re not wasting their time and that there is purpose to their work.


Four Generations in the Workplace
Traditionalists: The Word World II generation that has a strong work ethic.
Baby Boomers: Seventy-seven million strong, they currently occupy mid- and senior-level management positions.
Gen Xers: Known as the “Latch Key Kids,” this is an independent group requiring less supervision.
Millennials: Born between 1982 and 2002, they have been called Gen Y, the Techno Generation, Nexters and the Sunshine Generation.
Source: Dina Cipollaro, Fundamental Training Solutions

RL: Any final thoughts?

DC: Think in terms of rewards. If one of your Millennial employees is doing a particularly good job, ask him or her to be manager for a day. Say, “You’ve done a great job the past six weeks. Now, I want you to know what it feels like to lead the rest of the team. I feel you have the confidence and the capability to do so.” The best retention tools continually challenge them.


Dina Cipollaro is a generational expert and trainer with Fundamental Training Solutions in South Lake Tahoe, CA. Her Web site is

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