Cursor goes course-hopping | Leading Millennials

Since it’s never too late to learn, we at Cursor always make time for a good course. This time, Cursor joins the ‘Leading Millennials’ workshop, which helps supervisors understand how to manage the millennial generation, and provides them with a handful of practical tips that will increase this group’s performance. Because – but you probably knew this already – they are the creative and solution-orientated types in your team.

photo Scyther5 / iStock

Naturally, the workshop – which will take two hours – starts with the question: ‘Which generation belongs to the millennial group?’ The answer: people born between 1985 and 2000 who are now between the ages of 23 and 38. They’re also known as Generation Y.

“However,” workshop leader Marceo Hielckert of Human Capital Care hastens to add, “there is no such thing as a typical millennial, and the differences within this group can sometimes be more significant than those between millennials and the generations that came before and after them.” That makes those present at the workshop think, because if the differences between millennials are really that significant, is a uniform approach even possible?

The ten people who signed up for the workshop represent all levels within the university, and they often work with students or young colleagues. Hielckert says that it’s helpful to understand what exactly makes millennials tick and how best to approach them, because their number will increase significantly at TU/e in the coming years. That is why it’s very important to prevent frictions between different generations, he believes, because sixty percent of employees say that they already consider this a problem.


Okay, on to the next part of the workshop: which characteristics, by and large, best define this group? Some of the terms mentioned: individualization, globalization, creative, flexible, critical, but also up for fun and development. The biggest pitfall: having unrealistically high expectations. Suitable term to describe this group: ‘YOLO.’ I hadn’t heard that one for a while.

I myself turn out to belong to Generation X (born between 1955 and 1970), also known as the ‘Forgotten Generation,’ I read much to my dismay. Authoritarian, loyal, and strong believers in the slogan ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ Authoritarian, me? Who said that?

But let’s return to the group we want to learn to understand. Millennials experience ‘technostress,’ because they want to keep up with the ever-increasing rate of technological progress. That fact is, however, that they’re wedged between the generation that came just before the rise of the internet, the so-called Pragmatic Generation, and Generation Z, also known as Digital natives, who grew up in a digital work. That can cause problems and feelings of stress.

In addition, millennials were from an early age considered serious discussion partners by their parents, who were extremely protective of their children. A phenomenon described by the elegant phrase ‘curling parents.’ As a result, millennials never had to face the obstacles their parents removed for them. As a father of three, this tendency to brush things away is something I definitely recognize.

My South American neighbor, who is somewhere in his early thirties now and was raised an only child, is all too familiar with the phenomenon of ‘curling parents,’ which is quite unusual in that part of the world. He says with a smile that he had to completely ‘uncurl’ after he left his parents’ home to live on his own. He’s doing rather well, by the way.


It’s rather unique, incidentally, to have a millennial in permanent employment, because this group in particular is very attracted to life as a freelancer, because – that’s right – they love flexibility. What matters most to them is the content of the work, no so much the salary or career opportunities. They work hard and set high standards for themselves, because they were free to choose whatever they wanted when they were young, and to pursue any career they wanted. Now that they made that choice, they feel responsible to live up to it. That is why they are permanently switched to ‘on’ mode, and why it can even be difficult to convince them to have lunch with their colleagues, because that takes up valuable time.

Hielckert calls on managers and supervisors to set boundaries for these colleagues who tend to emerge themselves in their work. “Talk it over in the team.” One of the workshop participants says that you should also take a person’s personal situation into account. “People with families, which is not unthinkable in this age category, have to balance a family and a career and constantly ask themselves: should I act on this or not?”


Then it’s time to address the million-dollar question: do millennials prefer to be supervised or coached? The workshop participants know the answer – the latter – but you have to do it with the right focus, because this group isn’t used to asking for help, Hielckert says. Because of that, they are at risk of a burn-out at an early age. Don’t forget to look for signs, which range from forgetfulness, lack of sleep and regular absence, to sudden onset of crying and drug use. One of the participants says that millennials should realize that life isn’t always fun and that there’s no shame in failure. Someone else says that you can often determine someone’s state of mind by inquiring with colleagues. “I often learn more from that than when I ask the person I’m worried about.”

An overview tells supervisors in very basic terms what they need to work on: compensate the usual stress factors – which include work pressure and a poor work-life balance – by adding energy sources, such as more autonomy and regular comments that someone’s work really matters. But these rather generic tips would make work more pleasurable for everyone. However, a pat on the back or some other compliment is extra important to this group, because they’re not likely to think of their work as being important.

In conclusion, someone raises the following question: “Is there a workshop for millennials about how to deal with all those other generations they have to work with?” It turns out there is, but it isn’t included in the workshop package offered by TU/e, Hielckert says. Adding such a workshop is definitely worth considering.

In the ‘Cursor goes course-hopping’ feature, our editors will take part in the various training sessions, courses and workshops that TU/e offers throughout the year with the aim of allowing students and staff members to increase their knowledge and skills in a variety of fields. If you happen to offer a course, training session or workshop yourself that might be of interest to this feature, or if you know of any such event, don’t hesitate to contact Cursor’s editorial board.

Share this article