Coaching Millennials at Facebook

I’ve learned much about coaching millennials from conversations with executives at Facebook, Starbucks and Amazon. What struck me most about talking with these leaders? How thoroughly many companies are now driven by a millennial workforce.

Mike Welsh, formerly Director of Onboarding at Facebook shared with me and my coaching colleagues how Facebook handles leadership development and executive coaching and I will share some of those insights with you.

The Differences Between Millennials and Baby Boomers

Who are the Millennials and how is coaching them different than coaching Gen X or Baby Boomers? Gen X are people born from 1965 to 1979, whereas Gen Y are born after 1980. Generation Y, also called Millennials, are currently 38% of the workforce, but they will be 75% of the workforce by 2025. Considering that 48% of the American supervisors and managers are eligible to retire now we are going to be coaching a lot more Millennials.

What’s different about how Millennials are motivated at work? Much of the commentary on different generations of course consists of generalizations but these patterns are widely reported in the literature.

Gen X’ers and Millennials operate with a different perspective from Baby Boomers. Their definitions of loyalty, time, and success are often quite different from Boomers. Millennials value these same concepts but in different ways that Boomers.

The key for managing and coaching millennial employees is understanding how the Millennials view the world and using that knowledge to help them be at their best.

Here’s a hint from the coaches at Facebook and Starbucks: accept them and don’t try to force them to be like other generations.


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Myth: Millennials Don’t Want to Put in the Hours to Get Ahead

Reality: Millennial employees are definitely willing to put in the time to do the job, however they are uninterested in superficial “face time” at work—the concept that just being seen working long hours is impressive and valued. While Baby Boomers tend to see time as something to invest to get ahead, newer generations view it as a valuable currency not to be wasted. These are the generations that expect work-life balance and paid time off. They want to get the job done, and then enjoy life.

It’s likely that you will be coaching more Millennials soon because with so many managers retiring the need for coaching these emerging leaders is growing.

For example, Facebook has over 23,000 of the smartest young and motivated employees anywhere. We don’t know the exact current figure but the past Director of Onboarding at Facebook told me that a couple of years ago, at least 20% of Facebook employees got to work with an Executive Coach! 100% of employees get external coaches at software company Asana, founded by the co-founder of Facebook. The demand for coaching continues to rise.