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Managing Millennials—A New Set of Rules

By: Mindy Terry
Posted: August 23, 2010, from the September 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Jenna Whipkey is the manager of The Spa at Wind Creek in Atmore, Alabama, and she is a millennial who is managing millennials. This 24-year-old says she deals with everyone on her team differently. With some, Whipkey says she is direct; with others, she coddles, and there are also team members who require a lot of direction and patience. Furthermore, she plays on each person’s strengths. “It’s a give-and-take. We help the staff members emphasize what they are good at and install them where they work best,” Whipkey says.

She notes a big difference between her younger and older workers when it comes to personal time. “The older team members will ask for vacation six weeks in advance, where the millennials will run in during the morning and ask for the afternoon off,” she explains. “You have to be an involved manager. If you don’t interact with your staff members on a daily basis, they will invent their own rules and policies. As long as they feel as if they are heard, and they can voice their ideas and opinions, then they feel like they have a sense of purpose and belonging in their positions.”

Mitch Jucha, a spa industry veteran and the director of spa for the soon-to-open Sahra Spa and Hammam in Las Vegas, has spent more than a decade running some of the world’s top spas. According to Jucha, when it comes to millennials, “They love working, require instant gratification, want and need answers, and want to know why. There is no reluctance or fear from them. The key to managing this generation is communication, communication, communication.”

Holly Colby, a manager at Vita, the wellness center at the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in Detroit, leads an open environment. “We have daily huddles as a team. This opportunity for feedback, kudos and verbal appreciation is great for Gen Y,” she notes. “We also have an open-door policy, allowing them to share freely with their supervisors.”

Colby stresses that sincere connection is key with millennials. “They want a personal connection, so we plan social events such as birthdays, bringing in cakes and other celebrations to make a big deal out of their personal lives. It’s critical to focus on and be sincere about the work-life balance to build a loyal team member.”

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