Here is a novel idea if you are a tough boss. Get fair. Fast. That is, if you want to hold on to your employees, especially millennials. Whether your realize it or not, employees expect the American workplace to be a kinder, gentler place in which to work. So tough guy or tough gal, get with it and start caring.

I’d bet that many American workers would rate a caring, fair-minded boss over money or other fringe benefits. It’s the relationship an employee has with his or her supervisor that determines how long that employee stays at a company and how productive that employee is while working there, more than money.

After spending more than 40 years consulting with management in companies ranging in size from less than 50 to more than 10,000 employees, I’ve found one consistent truth – the primary reason people quit a job is dissatisfaction with a supervisor, not with salary.

Research that dates back decades support this observation. Louis Harris and Spherion, in 1999, found that only 11 percent of employees who rated their supervisors as excellent said they were likely to look for a job in the next year, compared to 40 percent of those who rated their supervisor’ performance as poor were likely to quit.

My guess is that today, many employees believe their companies do not genuinely care about them. Similarly, I suspect that many employees feel that their companies do not care about their careers.

Millennials are on course to become the most educated generation in American history. Millennials don’t cite “work ethic” as one of their principal claims to distinctiveness. They love being a part of a team, do what matters, and want to be part of the action. Play, balancing work achievement with home life, and not doing things the way they’ve always been done for the sake of continuity are distinct among millennials.

Leading or managing millennials? Get ready to earn respect and loyalty. How? Focus on being the right person, rather than hiring the right person. Sound like marriage? It is. Be close, supportive, fair and an advocate. Appreciate their individuality, offer structure, guidance, encouragement, allow them to share their voice and harness the power of their connectedness in a fun work environment. Emphasize their confidence, their being techno-savvy connected, and their openness to change.

Which companies get it? According to the National Society of High School Scholars, at least for millennials, health care companies and believe it or not, U.S. government agencies, are the most sought after arenas for employment. Here are the top 10 sought after companies for millennials:

  1. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  2. Google
  3. Walt Disney Company
  4. Apple
  5. Local hospital
  6. FBI
  7. Dreamworks Animation
  8. Health Care Service Corp.
  9. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  10. CIA

Today, it is about a thoughtful manager creating a highly charged, on the edge team of powerfully focused employees. How? Look at the word teamwork.



Assist each other


Willingness to step beyond what’s expected

Organizational thinking that’s proactive

Respect is given to everyone

Kindness is shown constantly

Company after company recognize the value in training managers in the art and skill of positive reinforcement, discipline without punishment, smart communication, and being, well, simply put, a mentsch – a good person. It is imperative to focus on communicating your company’s culture and career growth to potential employees, especially millennials.

It begins and ends with management, since organizational strength and vitality depend upon an organization’s leadership. The skills and insights of the science of behavior change and coaching have taught me many things about people. However when it comes to my management practice, one thing emerges more clearly than anything else – the success of an enterprise is determined by the people running it. In today’s world of work, those people must understand the value of and wisdom of being thoughtful to subordinates.

Leadership is about having a vision, creating enabling and encouraging messages, empowering people to achieve their goals, and energizing people to act.

Leadership is an energetic, interdependent, people focused, commitment not compliant outcome oriented, team more than individual enterprise, geared to achieving commonly agreed objectives.

If you are having trouble relating to a subordinate at work, perhaps you had better take a look at how you relate to your spouse or children. I’ve found that among senior management, how you deal with your children may mirror how your “control” your employees. Control? Leave that myth on the bus, subway, or in the parking garage.

Understanding how you function away from work, at home for instance, may shed some insight into where you need to change at work.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How is your management style similar to and different from your parenting style?
  2. How are your work relationships similar to and different from your sibling relationships?
  3. How is the role you play in your family similar to and different from roles you play in peer groups at work?
  4. Do your bad habits play themselves out at work as well as at home?
  5. Do you react toward people at work in ways you don’t understand? If so, do these people remind you of any family members?

If the answers to these questions do not point you toward the solution, what and how you need to change, then executive coaching may help. Your bottom line will appreciate it.