Managing Millennial Employees Takes Leadership

Until you know how to coach and enable the next generation, you can’t possibly identify what transcendent “new” skills they have and unleash them. ( Drovers )

By Jared Wareham, Top Dollar Angus

Instead of continuing to point out what we view as the major millennial flaws, let’s take a quick step back and consider the following. Managing generations that have developed under rapidly evolving socioeconomic conditions creates an environment ripe with contempt and indifference. The ability to see beyond these obstacles and find ways to cultivate success through the employee talent that is there takes great leadership and tolerance.

The Greatest Generation, the baby boomers, and others worked hard hour after hour to ensure their kids and grandkids could have the opportunities they never did. These privileges were paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of our forefathers. Collectively, they labored to create the power of choice and the unintended baggage that inevitably followed.


The ability to work where one wants versus where they have to is greater than ever before. Further, the credence of maintaining a proper “work/life balance” has reached an era where it finally has merit and is exercised. This is something, on average, previous generations never had. The “stay until the job is done” mentality was bred in and now seems lost. I think this is just one example of an accidental barrier or obstacle managers must recognize and work through. 

Retooling our own personal development strategies may need serious consideration. In fact, the reality is, managers might need to evolve as much, if not more, to remain successful. It is hard to effectively manage what you simply don’t know, or better yet, might have initially misunderstood. Until you know how to coach and enable the next generation, you can’t possibly identify what transcendent “new” skills they have and unleash them. Flipping the script or adjusting the managerial ocular could be the bridge you need. 

You might scoff at the notion an adjustment on our part as managers is part of the solution.

However, consider this: Oncoming generations are the only alternative. Sustainability of our beef production systems will depend on their inclusion and subsequent success as an ascending generation. 

I know time is a real challenge in every manager’s life. It can be difficult to find enough time to get what you already have in front of you done, let alone spend more time focused on employees and professional development. The challenge of managing people is not for everyone. If that task does fall to you, the choice is yours: be a constant fire fighter or learn how to empower others. A labor force, like any other business resource in beef production, has equity.

That’s what great leaders do.

They keenly identify the strengths and weaknesses of those they are surrounded by and position them to be the most effective. If you only see oncoming generations for their perceived weaknesses, you’ve already lost. They will eventually sweep across our industry like an unstoppable tidal wave becoming the next era of ranchers, feedyard managers, farm credit specialists, etc. It is up to each manager to decide if he or she will surf or succumb to the undercurrent.   


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