The Secret to Managing Millennial sales reps [2020 update]

Managing millennials

Millennials are no longer just a part of the workforce. They are the workforce. 56% of US workers are millennials today, and that number will grow to 75% in the next 10 years.


So the question of managing millennials reps is hardly an idle one.

Here’s what you can do to effectively manage your millennials employees to drive up retention rates and drive down natural attrition.

Who are millennial reps?

Millennials are people who were born between 1981 and 1996(ish). That puts them between 23 and 38.

So if you think about your sales team, odds are it’s mostly millennials. 

The challenge, of course, is that managing millennials requires a different approach than any previous generation.

They’re value creativity, are tech-savvy, and put a premium on a healthy work-life balance.

They’re also incredibly disengaged with their work and they’re prone to leaving.

Here are some sobering stats:

  • 71% are not engaged or actively disengaged with their jobs
  • 60% of millennials are “open to opportunities and more 43% envision leaving their jobs in the next two years.

In short, millennials are less likely to be happy in their jobs and much, much more likely to leave than previous generations. What’s more, given the outrageously low unemployment, keeping your millennials sales reps happy is critical.

What do millennials value?

Millennials want to be engage with work in a different way compared to previous generations.

They want to feel as though they matter to their employers and that their work is valued by management.

Millennials are not necessarily looking for their value to translate into higher pay; in fact, 45% of millennials choose flexibility over money.

4 secrets to managing millennials

So how do you actually manage millennials? Given their seemingly flakey attitude towards workplaces and low attachment to monetary gain, managing millennials can feel like an impossible task.

But it’s not.

Here’s our top tips.

1. Give them something to care about

Millennials are overwhelmingly curious and want to work somewhere where they make a difference.

So what give them that. When you’re managing millennials, make sure that your company mission is clear to everyone, and try and connect your work to that overarching objective (you should probably be doing this anyways).

Second, give them new projects to own and new initiatives to take on. Millennials aren’t ones to grind away at something again and again. Which is actually great for you, since it means that you get an employee who’ll always be keen to take on new things. You just need to give them the opportunity to do that.

2. Be flexible around when work happens

Do you really care if your team works 9-5 so long as the work gets done? If you’re managing millennials, the answer had better be “no”.

But there’s a gray area between “work whenever, wherever you want” and “be here every day”

A good middle ground when you’re managing millennials is to design programs with clear objectives and milestones. That way, you get granular insight into work as it happens, without demanding that your team is always in at exactly 9am.

3. Meet regularly

44% of millennials saay they’re more likely to be engaged (and thus, stick around) if they meet regularly with their manager. And yet, only 21% of managers are actually doing this on a weekly basis. A weekly 1:1 should be a requisite if you’re managing millennials since it’s (1) a relatively low-calorie activity and (2) super effective for almost half of millennials.

All you need to do it start actually doing it.

4. Build a path to success

Outline opportunities for advancement. Millennials are ready to be on the move. If your company doesn’t communicate or demonstrate the possible avenues for advancement for your young professionals, they will move to a company that does. By outlining scenarios and providing examples for how your young employees can grow their careers at your company you are presenting them with a path to follow.

Wrap up

Managing millennials isn’t the same as managing other generations. It’s less about the money and more about experience, flexibility, and the mission. 

But that doesn’t mean managing millennials is actually harder. It just requires a different toolbox.

With a clear mission, a flexible work / life balance, regular 1:1’s and a transparent path to success, you’ll find managing millennials isn’t so hard after all.