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  • Writer's pictureAustin Aloysius Tay

Millennials are just too hard to work with

Updated: Oct 21, 2023


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

Reading someone like a book would be nice, but human personality can be a 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 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 occasionally 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, asking the ‘why?’, thinking that they are better at their job (but in fact, they are not – Dunning-Krueger effect). What should you do as an organization or line manager when working with Millennials?

Change your Mindset

You have already employed them. There must be good reasons they are working in your organization. List them down. Look again at your interviewing notes as to their development areas. This is important when trying to get through to anyone (new or old employees or Millennials). This 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. Provide a timeline if you require follow-up steps or work to be done. Remember, as these individuals will be new to the work environment and not know how things are done, be prepared to provide support and guidance. Learning by doing is indeed a good way for accelerated learning, but learning becomes ineffective when it is done without proper guidance.

Communicate – Listen

It is important to have two-way communication to ensure both parties understand each other. Be open when listening to their concerns, ideas and frustrations, as it can help you modify how you convey your message, intentions, and 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. Our own set of values drives all of us, 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 their values here will be useful as you can use them to guide their behaviour, actions, dedication, and 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?

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