Career Woman

You’ve got this: How can I relate to millennial coworkers?


Dr Froswa’ Booker-Drew answers your questions, putting her years of experience and practice into the goal of solving those knotty problems that beset us, and assuring us: ‘you’ve got this. If you’d like Froswa’ to look at your particular problem, email it to

Question:  I’m finding it really hard to relate to a couple of millennials on my team. They just don’t see to be tipping in, or taking projects seriously. How can I change this? Jasmine W.

Let me just say it.  Millenials are different.  I find myself talking with colleagues who are frustrated, challenged, and those who have just given up and refuse to work with them.  I must say, I’ve had some amazing experiences with Millenials, especially a young woman who works for me now.

This young woman saw me at a conference.  After reading my bio and seeing me on the stage as a speaker, she wanted to meet me.  One of her dear friends approached me on her behalf. After talking briefly with her, I told my then admin to make sure we were connected.  Little did this young woman know that I was serious.  If she wanted to get to know me, I wanted to make myself available.

I had so many adults in my young adulthood who dismissed me.  I would arrange meetings and they would not show up or even call me back.  It was one of those experiences that shaped me profoundly.  As I became more established in my career, many of these same folks are now free all of a sudden (hmmm wonder why) and willing to have a conversation. Instead of focusing on some of the rough edges, I focused on the diamond that I could see radiating in this young woman. For me, working with her was an opportunity…something that I am remember some very critical individuals in my life did for me. Long story short, my admin moved into another role, this young lady became my admin.  Two jobs later, she is still with me, with even more responsibility.

Keep in mind that we are all shaped by our experiences and emotions.  As a proud, card carrying member of Generation X, my managers early in my career were Baby Boomers and they impressed upon me the value of work and so did my parents.  My parents taught me that hard work was the key to success.  As I struggle with my upbringing in working until things get done and accepting the importance of work-life balance, this isn’t the case for those who are younger.  They have a different value for work. I am not excusing bad or poor work ethics or bad behavior.  That has to be addressed.

I think this is a great opportunity to coach the young adults on your job.  Build trust and a safe space so that they will listen to your guidance.  Find out what are their career goals and in doing so, you can become an advocate to help them reach them.  From your question, I’m not sure if you are their supervisor or co-worker because the power dynamic will definitely impact the relationship but if you are NOT their boss, it might be worthwhile to have a conversation with your boss on how you can both help these young people become stellar employees.  It will require coaching, mentoring, and even some tough love as needed so that you are not doing their job and they are contributing.

Here three articles that might help (and yes, you’ll see a familiar name):

  • A Generation Decoded: How to Work with Millennials

  • 5 Ways Leaders Excel In Teams With Millennials, Gen X, Boomers

  • Intergenerational Inspiration Q&A with Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew,

You are not alone in your frustration.  This chart has been life saving for me.  I do not want to lump everyone into a category and stereotype folks based on a time period but I do believe that this chart can offer perspective in dealing with Millenials and could also help them as well in understanding the way you work.  This could really be a great undertaking by your HR Department to help the company’s productivity by further understanding of these differences.  This is the first time in history that we have so many generations in the workplace and now with the advent of Generation Z entering the workplace, we have to be willing to understand how to work together.  I believe because of your willingness to express this concern that you are also willing to do what it takes to better your environment.  Don’t worry…You. Got. This.

About Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

Dr. Froswa' Booker-Drew is a Partnership Broker. Relational Leadership Junkie. Connector. Author/Speaker/Trainer. Co-Founder, HERitage Giving Circle. She been quoted and profiled in Forbes, Ozy, Bustle, Huffington Post and other media outlets around the world. In addition, she has been asked to speak on a variety of topics such as social capital and networking, leadership, diversity, and community development to national and international audiences. This included serving as a workshop presenter at the United Nations in 2013 on the Access to Power. One of the most impactful life events for her was being a part of the documentary, Friendly Captivity, a film that followed a cast of 7 women from Dallas to India. Honors for her work include: Semi-finalist for the SMU TEDx in 2012, 2012 Outstanding African American Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Arlington, 2009 Woman of the Year Award by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Diversity Ambassador for the American Red Cross. Graduating with a PhD from Antioch University in Leadership and Change, she also attended the Jean Baker Miller Institute at Wellesley for training in Relational Cultural Theory and completed facilitator training on Immunity to Change. She has also completed training through UNICEF on Equity Based Evaluations, and is the author of 2 workbooks for women, Ready for a Revolution: 30 Days to Jolt Your Life and Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last as well as a writer for several publications around the globe. WFAA Attention Series: Froswa Booker Drew on Vimeo

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