3 Tips for Being Managed by Non-Millennials (Without Offending Them)

by on December 3, 2013

Make your Millennial Connections Exceptional

Last month, I gave a talk on Managing Millennials (Without Managing Them) at SiliconTeach. I run Chewse, a Catering Concierge Service that feeds offices their lunches.

I’m a Millennial who founded a company in her dorm room, slept on couches for 2 years, raised $1M in financing, and found herself managing her own Millennials. I now want to turn the discussion of Managing Millennials on its head and give 3 tips for Being Managed by Non-Millennials (Without Offending Them). 

1. Focus on Creating an Evangelist

You love marketing and those creative ads from Old Spice that you share with your friends, right? They tell a simple story that gets you raving about those products. You’re going to have to do what the big brands do, but for your personal brand by creating an evangelist out of your manager. That means going above and beyond your role and its expectations.

Try this simple exercise. If your CEO asked your boss to describe you in 1 sentence, what would s/he say? What would those 3 adjectives be, and what about that verb? This isn’t about semantics, it’s about what you WANT anyone at your company to say and living up to those virtues.

Make it stupid simple for your boss to evangelize you.

2. Think as High-Level as your Boss Does

Every major problem I’ve ever seen boils down to a miscommunication of truths: your truth and their truth. So take the time to sit your manager down at the kick-off of a project or the first day of orientation, and take a big-picture approach to what’s next.

Think about your manager — they have to make an extra effort to go from high-level strategy (where they work with other managers) to detail-oriented execution (where you’re roped in). Making that connection and articulating it takes a ton of effort and thought on their part. What they don’t expect is for you to come in and be thinking just as globally as they do.

At Chewse, we have anyone who calls a meeting to lay out this framework at the start of it:

“I called this meeting because X, and the thing I want out of this meeting is Y. The things we will discuss are Z.”

It takes <30 seconds, ensures that your next 15 – 120 minutes of meeting time are well-leveraged, and displays an enormous amount of high-level thinking. Simple and radical, right?

3. Non-Millennials, Millennials…We’re All People

I had a friend my freshman year of business school who was terrified at the idea of going to alumni networking events — because she didn’t know how to relate to people 20+ years her senior.

This idea puzzles me. I’ve grown up as an only child with social parents — that means I was hanging out with 40-year olds when I learned how to talk. And they have become my friends. While we aren’t necessarily texting each other cat memes, we are interested in working out the kinks of personal development, understanding how Twitter makes money, and Trojan Football. Normal hot topics of conversation.

I bring this up because it’s important to be your authentic, genuine self with anyone you work with. Build a meaningful relationship with your manager. Don’t drunk text your manager at 2am. Depending on how corporate your environment is and how understanding your boss is, do share if you feel like you had the wrong expectations about the role. Do let them know what inspires you and how you like to work with teams. Do give them praise when they deserve it (hell, who doesn’t love praise — it’s not like they hear it everyday!).

Nurture the relationship because you care, and you’ll find that you both become invested in your success.

About the Author: Tracy Lawrence

Tracy is the CEO and co-founder of Chewse, the marketplace helping offices find the best-catered meals. After eating her way through USC and being awarded Entrepreneur of the Year, she took her startup to San Francisco and the 500 Startups incubator. When not feverishly working, she indulges an unhealthy love of farmers’ markets, pita, hummus and running. She loves helping and mentoring entrepreneurs that are female, from Los Angeles, and/or in food tech, so hit her up!

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