March 31, 2015 Jason Vernon

What To Stop (And Start) Doing When Leading Millennials

Millennials have so much to offer to a church staff. They are energetic, tech-savvy, passionate and eager to make a difference. Many churches hire young leaders but never fully maximize their potential. They put them in situations that lead to discouragement and possibly even burnout. Making a few changes in how you lead the millennials on your team can create lasting positive results.

1) Stop trying to uphold outdated policies and procedures that ultimately create a rigid work environment. Forcing millennials to adhere to a strict office schedule with no flexibility is a quick way to lose young staff.

Start letting team members come in later when they have exceeded normal working hours. Use technology so that team members can sometimes work from home.

2) Stop assuming that millennials don’t require affirmation. Many millennials came from “helicopter parents” who constantly told them they could do no wrong. This obviously doesn’t fly in the real world. It is inevitable that young leaders will make many mistakes as they grow. Churches can tend to focus on the negative rather than noticing the good things young staff members are accomplishing.

Start being intentional with new ways to show value and appreciation. In a world consumed with text messages, emails and social media posts, handwritten thank you cards go a long ways. Five minutes of undivided attention can be a game changer.

3) Stop micromanaging the daily tasks of young leaders. Millennials want to do work that matters. They quickly become frustrated when every minute detail of their day is monitored. Their creativity and passion is blocked when you get involved in projects they can handle on their own.

Start empowering millennials by giving them the resources they need to accomplish the vision. Once you have empowered and provided proper resources, walk away and let them thrive.

4) Stop giving millennials projects and responsibilities without clear expectations. Millennials want to know why they are doing what they are doing. They want to understand what success looks like. They very much want to win but grow discouraged when they are trying to hit a moving or unclear target.

Start defining what the win looks like. Always take time to explain the “why.” Clearly describe what the expected outcome should look like and how they will know that they accomplished the vision.

5) Stop making approval processes difficult. Many millennials complain that they work extremely hard on projects but feel paralyzed because once a task reaches a certain point, they wait too long for decisions and approvals to be made.

Start empowering millennials to make quick decisions (creative, financial, etc.). Help them understand exactly where to go with questions and concerns.

6) Stop underestimating millennials. Many times they are given mundane tasks until they “earn” their worth and serve their time. Ironically, millennials are more than likely the most tech savvy, innovative thinkers on the team.

Start helping millennials reach their potential by giving them responsibilities that stretch their capacity. Give them a seat at some of the tables where decisions are made.

7) Stop isolating millennials with solo projects. This keeps them from learning from other more experienced leaders and also lowers motivation.

Start forming high capacity teams of all ages that are not afraid to tackle big challenges.

8) Stop throwing millennials right into their tasks when they come on board. Churches can travel at such a fast pace that it is tempting to let new team members hit the ground running. This communicates a negative culture to the new team member and also presents an environment that reacts to circumstances rather than being proactive with a clear strategy.

Start looking for mentors to partner with new millennial team members. This gives them a chance to understand the organization while learning from a proven leader.

9) Stop assuming that millennials are developing as leaders on their own.

Start creating a leadership development plan. Once a new team member is in place, he or she needs to have a clear understanding of their growth path for their job.

10) Stop leading with no clear mission and vision.

Start communicating the mission and vision and let millennials develop strategies to accomplish them.


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Jason Vernon

Jason is the Director of Content Development for The Unstuck Group. He graduated from Liberty University with a degree in Marketing and a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership. He also received an MBA from Lynchburg College. Jason was a Marketing Consultant for over 7 years. He currently serves as Communications Director at Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA.
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