October 26th, 2011 | 6:00 am

How to Manage Young Professional Women: 5 Tips for Female Supervisors

filed under Managing Change

By Julia Moon (New York City)

In the last few years, a significant portion of the 70 million Generation Y individuals has entered the workforce – and studies show that this new generation of employees is unique: Gen Y are both high-maintenance, but also high-performance.

Gen Y employees are known to be excellent team-players, multitaskers, and innovators. However, they are also known to be fickle, demanding, and selfish when unmotivated in a job. That is why the manager’s role in the workplace has ever increasing importance on the Millenials’ retention and performance. Here are five things you can do as a female manager to get your junior employee to perform at her best.

1. Provide Feedback

Millennials grew up in an environment where they were given constant close attention from their parents, teachers, and friends. As a result, they also expect frequent feedback in the next stage of their life – the workplace. Gen Y employees are reliant on both positive and negative feedback from their managers.

A manager might be accustomed to only pointing out errors; however, it’s just as important to provide positive feedback as well – junior employees may not be aware that some traits are strengths. Positive feedback also gives Millennial employees a sense of emotional reward, which motivates them to become more invested in their work.

2. Leverage Your Strengths

Entry-level employees want their managers to be their role model. For a female junior employee, the ideal female manager would be a good leader because she’s a woman. Despite the changes in the last few decades, many segments of the business world are male-dominated. In such an environment, it might be tempting for female managers to try and develop masculine characteristics to advance in their careers by “fitting-in.”

But women possess unique leadership characteristics – like being nurturing, empathetic, compassionate, and intuitive. Studies have shown that the leadership characteristics considered traditionally female are often more effective in today’s business environment. Therefore, female Gen Y employees are looking to see their managers demonstrate how to leverage their existing strengths to exceed in their own careers. A great mentor makes an employee invested in her performance.

3. Model Work-Life Skills

Research shows that baby boomers typically put their personal lives on the back burner in pursuit of their careers, but Gen Y employees seek to fit their careers around their personal lives. Female Millenials, in particular, are already concerned about how to balance their future families and their careers.

A manager who can demonstrate a good work-life skills is invaluable to a female junior employee. Millenial employees want their managers to guide them on how to advance in their careers while maintaining their personal lives. Being a great mentor for both career and life helps a junior employee become more invested in their projects.

4. Listen to Their Ideas

As a manager, you will have more experience and knowledge about the industry than an entry-level employee. However, Gen Y has always spoken their mind freely to their parents and teachers, and they’ll likely do so with their managers as well. This isn’t out of disrespect, but more from the passion to improve and contribute to their work.

In order to engage your junior employee, it’s crucial to actively engage them by listening. For Millennials, seeing that their opinions are valued and considered gives them a reward that’s often larger than monetary benefits. Therefore, even if you don’t end up taking their idea, it’s important to note that you’re listening to their ideas to promote innovative thinking.

5. Focus on Development

The number one reason that Millennials report for changing jobs is a lack of development opportunities. Millennials are accustomed to participating in multiple activities at once, and when a junior employee feels that she is not growing in the workplace, she will become divested and look for other opportunities. This is partly due to their perception of high self-worth, as well as the belief that there are other career options out there, even in the harsh economic climate. And with technology lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship, there are many alternatives to staying with one employer. To satisfy Gen Y’s desire for growth, try to stimulate their development any way you can.

2 comments

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  2. Gretchen Neels

    Great article! Managers of both genders need to keep in mind that Millennials have been the center of their own universe for twenty plus years before they find their way onto a sales team, call center, or practice group. It’s not easy giving up the spotlight! Consistent feedback coupled with clear expectations should be at the top of the list for managers managing members of Gen Y.