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How to Develop Your Millennial Managers


Millennials and Generation Z workers will compose the majority of the workforce by 2025, so it is no surprise that many Millennials are already taking up leadership roles. According to one study, 27% of millennials are already managers, 5% are in senior management, and 2% are executives. With this new generation of management, many organizations are scrambling to train them (with some providing no training at all).

The problem: many leadership training programs fail. estimates that leadership training is a $366 billion global industry, and yet, a study by McKinsey revealed a surprising state about the leadership industry: most of these leadership programs fail to create the desired results. This seems to be partially the fault of the one-size-fits-all approach that many programs run. Non-interactive leadership programs and lack of follow-up also leads to a decrease efficacy of these programs. Simply put, blanket leadership programs DON’T work, and inadequate leadership can give rise to a myriad of talent issues including an increase in employee turnover.

So what can organizations do to better develop and train their managers? In this article, we list several ideas to develop your Millennial managers.

1) Develop customized leadership programs

There needs to be a push to develop a customized leadership program based on your organization’s needs (not a consultant’s ideas). Yes, some of the leadership points may be similar across programs, but leadership development doesn’t work without a clear context and cultural understanding. Different organizations value different skills and competencies.

HR leaders need to be able to develop programs that work with their organization culture and emphasize the values and behaviors that they expect their managers to role model. For example, if creating and sustaining a feedback culture is important to an organization, HR leaders need to ensure that they are getting effective feedback training (if you are looking for a training program, feel free to reach out to us).

2) Enable multi rater feedback (360-degree feedback)

While we emphasized the importance of training in our first point, we want to emphasize that training cannot guarantee great leadership! A great (and cost effective) way to train managers is enabling continuous 360-degree feedback. While some organizations may hesitate on enabling continuous 360-degree feedback (particularly if they are implementing it for the first time), they need to realize that the majority of employees actually want more feedback!

65% of employees want more feedback – Officevibe

Managers should be getting regular feedback from their managers, but they should also receive feedback from their team members including their direct reports. Feedback are the data points which give insight into the manager’s skills and competencies. It also increases a manager’s self awareness, and a high self awareness is often what separates high-performers from their peers in the workplace.

Of course, HR leaders need to ensure these new managers are receiving sufficient quality and quantity of feedback. Continuous 360-degree feedback is great, but 20 “good jobs” or “kudos” won’t develop your managers. Feedback has to be effective to be useful.

3) Establish regular 1-on-1s

In addition to real-time 360-degree feedback, managers should make it a habit to regularly check-in their managers. One common problem is the lack of follow-up after feedback has been given. Moreover, the lack of feedback analysis can also be an issue, particularly important when lots of feedback has been given over a certain time frame. Having a more formal, organized follow-up session once every month can lessen the time it takes to realize concerns, develop action plans, and strengthen opportunity areas. It also allows managers to see and acknowledge any progress an employee has made over time.

4) Enable the right tools

If you want managers to improve, the right tool(s) and technology need to be implemented. Past performance should be accessible to managers so that they can review their past feedback and their direct reports’ past feedback.

We highly recommend using a performance management software to help document and store all of this feedback data. Another bonus of newer performance management software systems (such as Pavestep) is the people analytics feature – managers can view their own strengths and weaknesses as well as their employees’ strengths and weaknesses in order to make better training and talent decisions.

5) Coaching and mentoring

Executive coaching and mentoring – whether it be pairing someone internally or finding an external third party – can be very beneficial to leaders. In fact, many senior leaders often cite their own mentors who have helped them. The effect of coaching and mentorship will largely depend on the coach or mentor. The most effective mentors challenge, encourage, and question. Check out these resources regarding mentorship:


It is often said that people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. We must be able to train our managers to be great, not just good! Have any other thoughts on developing managers? Let us know!

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