The generational gap is now wider than it has ever been and this can cause friction in software development teams mixed with older employees. Millennials (or individuals born in the late 1980s-2000) are the most educated and tech savvy generation in human history.

The millennial generation will make up 75% of the workforce in the next ten years. As a result, it is vital that multi-generational teams learn to function better and enhance productivity. Compared to Generation X, Millennials think differently and are driven by different things. If you don’t understand them, it’ll become difficult to manage and get the best out of this generation. Unlike the generations before them, Millennials are more interested in purpose rather than just a paycheck. And the generational differences don’t stop there.

Here are five tips to help manage Millennials in software development teams.

1. Know your team

Whether it’s a software development team or any other team at the work place, remember that Baby Boomers and Generation X think about work in a very different way to millennials. As a result, you have to adapt your communication to suit each individual. Treat people how they want to be treated, instead of the way you want to be treated.

It also works the other way around, if you are managing staff that belongs to an older generation, you also have to adjust your communication accordingly. A reverse mentoring system is an ideal solution here to break the ice and encourage communication.

2. Coach them, often

The thing about Millennials in that they like and want to be coached. According to a global survey conducted by SuccessFactors (in collaboration with Oxford Economics), Millennials wanted feedback more often than 50% of non-millennials. Further, they also viewed their manager as a direct source to enhance their personal development. However, about 46% stated that they didn’t feel like they received the appropriate guidance from their managers. As a result, there is significant room for improvement.

Millennials also prefer to work with people they can learn from, so it’s always a good idea to put them in cross-departmental teams such as DevOps where they can also learn other aspects of the business and understand the whole operation.

3. Eliminate top-down management

No one likes to be ordered around, Millennials are no different. However, they stick to their guns and end up resigning. This generation thrives on putting everything in context and they need to know why decisions were made. Millennials also want to play a role in that decision-making process.

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Avoid a commanding style of management and develop a clear vision for your team. Helping this generation feel empowered can motivate them to generate actionable insights that can be crucial to the company.

4. Focus on growth

How well do you know your staff? What are their dreams? What new skills do they want to learn? Managing teams in the modern era will require you to be able to answer these questions to lead a productive team.

As stated earlier, Millennials are not driven by money, they will always want more. Growth has been identified as the ultimate motivator for this generation, so create an environment that can nurture their aspirations.

It is important to become an inspirational manager to help them learn new things. It is up to you to help them grow both personally and professionally. You can start out by developing a growth plan for each employee and help them fulfill their goals. In turn, they will help you achieve your goals!

5. Don’t forget to delegate!

Don’t be afraid to delegate responsibility. Let the Millennials take on new projects and approach them in their own unique way. This is essential to managing software development teams as the tech industry thrives on innovation. Silicon Valley has benefitted immensely from casually dressed youngsters over the years and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

Millennials thrive in more independent working structures and need space to maximize productivity. All you need to do is give them some good direction and then set them loose. By empowering them and letting them run their own projects, you can bet that you will get the best output from your team.

One thing older managers have going for them is the fact that Millennials love to crowdsource and work in groups. However, they will also take it up on themselves to make important decisions. This generation places a lot of value on diverse input from others and that makes it function easier in multi-generational teams.

And how do you manage Millennials on your software teams?

Also check out how startups can attract, hire and retain senior software developers for their projects.

Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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