How to Motivate Millennials – New Skills in Talent Management


It can be challenging for managers to motivate millennials and keep talented employees from jumping ship to the competition.  Photo source:

Millennials are now the largest demographic in the U.S. population surpassing baby boomers for population primacy.  While each generation is different from the other, motivating millennials requires a different approach from what has been successful with Gen Xers and boomers.  Managers and organizations must learn how to lead, inspire, and motivate millennials in order to keep this highly mobile workforce.  Transactional managerial methods will no longer work; organizations must engage millennials at the psychological level where they make decisions.

Recent Gallup research found that just 29% of millennials are engaged at work and that millennial turnover due to lack of engagement costs the U.S. economy over $30 billion annually.  Gallup also found four common themes that talent managers should be aware of when designing programs to engage and motivate millennials.

  1. Millennials are Unattached: Millennials are less attached to traditional memberships than previous generations. Millennials are more skeptical of institutions like corporations, religion, politics, brands, and community than previous generations.
  2. Millennials are Connected at a Global Level: Millennials are wired and connected to culture, friends, and the world around them. Gallup says 91% of millennials own a smart phone and rely on the internet for news and information.  This connection points to millennial engagement in social and environmental issues that transcend traditional ethnic and geographic boundaries.  This transcendence enters into workplace behavior and motivation as well.
  3. Change Agents: Driven by the experience of instant social connection and the power of crowd sourcing and big data, millennials see themselves as change agents striving for a more socially and economically conscious and just world.  This change agent perspective applies to business systems and relationships at the workplace.
  4. Work/Life Integration: Millennials see integration between work life and social life and expect to be engaged and developed in a way that supports both areas. Millennials also expect leaders to care about them personally and see emotional engagement as an important aspect of the workplace.

How to Motivate Millennials

Talent management of millennials requires authentic and thoughtful engagement.  Motivational programs must include approaches that include personal development, organizational relatedness, ideological congruence, and autonomy.  These areas are encompassed in the psychological concept of intrinsic motivation found in social cognitive theory and self-determination theory.  Organizations and managers need to understand and use intrinsic motivation to develop millennials in new ways to increase engagement and performance.  TierOne Performance Consulting can help you build talent management programs that put the mind on what matters and engages millennials in meaningful ways.

Remember – Put your mind on what matters!

The Psychology of Talent Management


With the hype of the NFL combine in the news, I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk about talent management.  Whether you are looking for a backcourt general or social media wizard, the psychological aspects of managing talent is all the same.  Here are some things to consider.

The gold standard of talent management is intrinsic motivation.  Intrinsic motivation spells a win-win for the talent and the organization.  The talent enjoys working at the company and feels valued and the company feels that the talent brings value the organization.  Self-Determination Theory tells us that intrinsic motivation is achieved when a state of competence, relatedness, and autonomy is experienced.  While this may seem pretty straight forward, social and cultural considerations also enter the mix to make things a little more complicated.

Ego, the sense of self-worth, and the feelings of empowerment all help muddy the intrinsic motivation waters.  Look at one of the most disastrous personnel management situations in the history of the NBA.  In the mid-90s, Superstar Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq) was arguably the best player in the league and a free agent with the Orlando Magic.  Shaq wanted to stay at Orlando and the Magic clearly wanted to keep the best player in the league, but Shaq ended-up signing with the L.A. Lakers…so what happened?  Orlando didn’t apply the principles of competence, relatedness, and autonomy and failed to appreciate the social and cultural influences that affected the decisions of their best player.  It wasn’t the money, trust me, it was the psychology.


Talent management is not about your organization’s salary cap, it is about the psychology of your employees.

The missing element in the Shaq scenario and in many organization’s that struggle with managing talent is the lack of appreciation for the psychological aspects of happiness and motivation.  Emotional intelligence is the key aspect of this equation and one that can be developed.  Emotional intelligence can help both the employee and organization recognize areas of friction and poor communication the impact ego and self-worth.  Once talent management is approached from a position of wisdom and insight, the aspects of self-determination theory can be used to find a win-win for the talent and the organization.

TierOne Performance Consulting can help organizations manage talent through the application of evidence-based psychological approaches.  Develop emotional intelligence within employees and build the wisdom and insight that increases performance with mindfulness training.


Become the Jedi CEO that will make a difference in your organization with evidence-based coaching in emotional intelligence and mindful-insight at TierOne Performance Consulting.

Remember – Put your mind on what matters!