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Engaging Millennial Educators

by Miguel Guhlin
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A school district executive director approached me and asked, “Do you have any suggestions for engaging millennials in the workplace?” The problem involves getting the younger generation (teachers) to work well with the older generation of baby boomers (principals). In this blog entry, we’ll explore how baby boomers in schools can better connect with the younger educators they supervise. That’s important because 50 percent of the 2020 global workforce will be composed of millennials.


Here are a few steps to follow to deepen understanding and engagement between these two different generational groups.

Step 1: Problem Engagement

Here’s a scenario that can help introduce you or the principals you mentor to the challenge of working with millennial educators on staff:

The campus principal you mentor, Martin, shared that he’s having a problem with two of his newer team members, Jen and Dave. They want to start various new Kickstarter campaigns to address the lack of funding, always seem to be asking for feedback on their work, and want to use social media tools to celebrate what’s happening in their classrooms. Not that any of this is necessarily bad, but other teachers are starting to be annoyed at their insistence. Jen and Dave keep wanting to do things their own way.

Gather several principals in a group to discuss this scenario. Ask them to identify strategies they would use to improve how this youngest generation of staff members can share a productive and happy work environment with older generations.

Step 2: Share Five Tips for Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

Let’s explore five needs millennials have and share some tips that may help with engaging them.

  1. Provide opportunities:
    • Need: Millennials prefer to work remotely when possible.
    • Tip: Create an office environment that allows staff to team and work across teams. Also, relax rules about off-campus meetings.
  2. Build digital spaces for your team.
    • Need: Millennials need to be able to connect with their team members.
    • Tip: Consider adopting a social media platform like Slack or Voxer to facilitate on-the-go connections. Encourage the use of Facebook or Instagram for building a school image. Be sure to remind all staff of responsible use agreements.
  3. Meet often.
    • Need: Millennials seek feedback and recognition on a regular basis. They also pursue continuous learning opportunities.
    • Tip: Set regular, brief meetings, and mentor your team members so they can engage in continuous learning.
  4. Develop your staff.
    • Need: Millennials seek career advancement.
    • Tip: Make connections between professional learning/development and the real life work the millennials are doing.
  5. Be open to social change.
    • Need: Millennials seek to make a social impact. “Millennials don’t just want to read the news anymore. They want to know what they can do about it,” says Ian Somerhalder (actor and entrepreneur).
    • Tip: Present problems and invite millennials to identify solutions that will address those problems (e.g. food drives, organizing school donation programs). Use technology to organize solutions and foster collaboration.

Step 3: Start a Book Study

Start a book study for principals focusing on engaging this generation in the workplace. Here are three powerful titles to get you started:

After sharing tips, invite principals to rethink their approach to the scenario posed. What would they do now that they are better informed?

Final Thought

Develop a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation on your campus. The culture should maximize professional learning opportunities and model teaching and teamwork for all generations, not just millennials. Don’t be afraid to connect and grow with your team.

Want to learn more about how baby boomers and millennials can work better together? Attend the Productivity Tools for Administrators workshop on Thursday, June 15, 2017 in Austin. The one-day learning experience is guaranteed to provide you a wealth of hands-on activities to ensure you walk away with the tips and techniques you need to do more in less time. Register here.


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