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Leadership and Staffing

Ask Linda: Managing Millennials

Rather than asking them to live up to your expectations, you might want to play to their strengths

Lab Manager

Dear Linda,

Our lab has recently hired a number of entry level lab technicians to run some of our simpler processes. What this group has in common is that they all fall within the millennial age bracket. While I have no issues with how they perform their tasks, I am challenged by the attitudes of some of them. Most of those issues have to do with their level of commitment to the job, their reluctance to work beyond their 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours, and a sense that they’re always looking for better employment elsewhere. I’m hoping you can help me find a way to manage this group and get them more engaged.


Dear Elizabeth,

You might be trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Rather than expecting them to live up to your expectations—unique to your generation as well, possibly—you might want to play to their strengths. While not to ascribe these traits to all millennials, they do share a few commonalities.

Since they tend to be very flexible and can switch tasks easily, try to mix up their assignments and responsibilities.

Because they value their non-work time and flexible scheduling, you might want to allow them to create their own work hours (provided, of course, your lab allows it).

Being especially tech savvy and willing to embrace new ways of doing things, think about allowing them to participate in informatics and automation discussions and decisions.

Given their communication and teamwork skills, you might want to have team meetings that allow their talent to shine. If such meetings address your company’s community and diversity initiatives, all the better.

In general, find ways to take advantage of their unique talents and ignore, if you can, what you consider their weaknesses.

Good luck.


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