Speak Eagle

How to Motivate a Millennial at Work


If you know me, you know I’m passionate about helping you become a better everyday communicator, every day. Whether you’re a salesperson, a mom, a dad, a board member, or the leader of a study or workgroup, the way you communicate is the lynchpin that determines your effectiveness.

As Senior Creative for Hippo Solutions, an innovative consulting company, I’ve been asked to record a series of video blogs to help leaders communicate better in the workplace. I know they’re a little different than my typical story-posts (and I’ll still write those on occasion-don’t worry), but they’re a good snapshot into my focus these days.

Over the past 5 years as I’ve worked with organizational leaders through Hippo Solutions and taught graduate courses at Williamson College, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “How do I motivate a Millennial?” motivating a Millennial

Millennials are the generation between Gen X and Gen Y, roughly born between the early 80s and the early 2000s. And if you’re a Millennial, I know you’re thrilled about being the subject of my blog post.

But the fact is, your generation is creating a lot of discussion and even some nervous fear for leaders of workgroups across the globe.

I think it’s helpful to look at it in terms of two theories of management- called Theory X and Theory Y, developed by Douglas McGregor with the MIT Sloan School of Management in the 1960s. A theory X manager believes people don’t really want to work, so we need to use control fear and threats and external rewards to make people work hard and get the job done well. But a Theory Y manager believes people really do want to work- they just want to have a mission, or an internally-motivated reason to be there.

Millennials are known for wanting a cause or a mission of how to make the world a better place. And I believe the way to spark internal motivation is to connect them to the end goal. That means connecting them to your customer. Let them see their faces (in person!), hear their voices and listen to their transformational stories. By connecting your Millennial employees to your customers, you’ll help them catch the big vision for their important part in a good cause.

Have other ideas on how to motivate Millennials? Share them!

For more information on how to help your workgroup thrive, contact us at Hippo Solutions.com.