It’s Expectations, Not Entitlement that Defines the Millennials

| June 14, 2018

There is an epidemic American industry is suffering from—and few take the time to understand.

Millennial turnover

We have interviewed hundreds of human resource officers, executives, sales managers, and sales lead to discovering if they consider Millennials a threat or an opportunity.

Overwhelmingly, respondents believe Millennials are an opportunity for the industry.

So why does this massive generation keep changing industries?

When you ask Millennials why they quit, they may say things like, “I wasn’t growing.


“I think you do find that expectations are higher among Millennials in terms of speed in career opportunities,” explained Michael Daly, Vice President Talent Management at Hub Group, Inc.

And when those expectations aren’t met, Millennials are more likely to look for fulfillment elsewhere.

Young employees who quit may not tell their supervisors the real reason they leave. They say, “I didn’t have as much opportunity as I wanted.” Or, “There wasn’t a clear path to advance.” And of course, “I didn’t make the money that I wanted.”

What they all mean to say is, “I’m leaving because this isn’t what I was expecting it to be.”

Much of our work comes from helping companies set those expectations in the hiring, recruiting and training process. Partner research shows Millennials determine how long they stay at your company within six weeks of working for you.

If you have a workforce teaming with Millennials—don’t worry. There are ways to address expectations well into their career that guarantee clearer communication, measurable increases in retention, and overall fulfillment spikes.

1. Have the conversation.

Managing Millennials is like starting a new romantic relationship. If you don’t communicate early and often, the relationship won’t last.

We teach managers to have new employees write out their three expectations for the job. This could include their advancement schedule, their access to clients or how they will be led. When we asked Matthew Watkins, Chief Enterprise Architect at Molson Coors Brewing Company, how important expectations were for Millennials, he explained it in terms of combatting entitlement.

“It’s not that they are entitled,” Watkins shared. “They want to be challenged.”

Hearing from your employees’ their expectations gives you the opportunity to use them as accountability measures, as well as discuss with them if those expectations are realistic given their role or the industry.

2. Invite them into the process.

Tell tale signs of Millennial disengagement are the same as other generations: showing up late, social media surfing, not making eye contact, sending in assignments late, hearing new excuses every week.

If anyone on your team is showing these signs, it’s time for you to engage them—rather than wait for them to engage you. Ask them how they would improve how the organization communicates, gets work done and serves your clients.

“Millennials are really good at innovation and process improvement,” admitted Maegan Pitts, a Corporate Recruiter at Diplomat.

Follow tip number one and have a conversation about their expectations. It’s a great opener for you to share your expectations with them, while addressing their negative behaviors.

3. Keep them accountable.

And vice versa. Millennials crave feedback because they want to know how well they are doing. It’s a constant status update—not a narcissist booster shot.

When expectations are clear and concise, it gives managers a starting point when doling out constructive criticism. We encourage managers to share their own expectations for the employee during the beginning stages of their job. It’s hard for an employee to argue their point when their actions go against the expectations agreement agreed to by both parties.

Horace Porras, Vice President of Human Resources of Latin America at American Tower, shared how accountability is tied to expectations. “This thing about transparency, it isn’t just about ethics, it’s about setting up clear pathways, competencies and expectations. In fact, expectations are the most important part

4. Give them their career to own.

Millennials have been taught to the test for so long, they expect their bosses and managers to make decisions for them too. An effective way to empower employees to have realistic expectations is to remind them often that they are in control of their career.

This does not mean there is no direction given. Give clear guidelines and empower Millennial employees tools to reverse engineer their career.

There are certainly strategies to reset expectations when they are out of line with your corporate culture. Brian Bencz at Cal Atlantic Group shared, “The one challenge I have is tempering the speed at which career advancement is expected [by Millennials]. If I hire the best and the brightest, it makes my job easier and it’s a win-win-win situation for them, the organization and myself.”

The Millennial generation is already the majority of the workforce. Their expectations, like communication styles and casual dress, continue to shift workplace culture across industries.

So will these expectations be a positive or challenging change for your workforce?

Kelly McMahon, a Human Resources Business Partner for American and Global Markets at Equinix may say it best. “Millennials can let expectations work for or against them.”

How America’s largest generation communicates their expectations may determine how quickly they rise into new positions of leadership, influence and change.

Category: Lifestyle

About the Author ()

Email | Website | Gabrielle Bosch is a Millennial author, speaker and generational strategist. She has been featured in Huffington Post, Fast Company, Business Insider and on Bloomberg Radio for her work on Millennials. She helps companies around the world attract, retain and optimize their Millennial workforce. Gabrielle is the author of 5 Millennial Myths: The Handbook for Managing and Motivating Millennials. Her books and management training material are used in companies and universities across the country. Gabrielle is the Founder and President of The Millennial Solution—, an international training and consulting company bridging the generation gap. To learn more or sign up for a free webinar on Hiring Millennials, visit