Millennials: My Last Management Frontier

August 16, 2016 – Charlie Francis


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Last week we explored how I managed multiple generations as a finance director.

My final challenge came when millennials entered the workforce, making my city multi-generational again! Millennials are motivated by working with other bright individuals and enjoying more time off. They are a product of the “drop down and click menu”.


Soaring like an Eagle

To better understand and manage millennials, I drew a matrix of generational motivations. It looked like this:

Traditionalists Baby-Boomers Generation X’ers Millennials
Motivated by… Being respected.

Security.

 

Being valued and needed.

Money.

 

Freedom and removal of rules.

Time Off.

 

Working with other bright people.

Time Off.

Then it suddenly struck me that I wasn’t looking at a matrix of competing values, but rather a continuum of human maturation! Let’s use some new terms:

Traditionalists Baby-Boomers Generation X’ers Millennials
Motivated by… From:

Being respected.

Security.

 

From:

Being valued and needed.

Money.

 

From:

Freedom and removal of rules.

Time Off.

 

From:

Working with other bright people.

Time Off.

  To:

Meeting one’s physiological and security needs.

To:

Meeting one’s security and social needs.

To:

Meeting one’s social and esteem needs.

To:

Meeting one’s esteem and self-actualization’s needs.

The trans-generational shift in our workforce over the last 60 years is akin to seeing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid being constructed through the lens of history!


With this revelation, I re-inventoried my management and mentoring skillset. It was time to emerge as a leader, not just a manager/mentor. Kicked out of the nest, growing my wing feathers, and learning to fly and hunt were but the forerunners of becoming a majestic, soaring bald-headed eagle! (Figurative as well as literal).

And, from the eagle’s view, I found I didn’t have a challenge at all! I had the opportunity to not just integrate, but assimilate the best practices, values, and motivators of all generations into a highly effective workforce. I enabled multi-generational exploration of new ways to use emerging technologies to process data more timely and accurately, and with less repetitive tasks. We encouraged breaking business-process rules that did not have to result in layoffs to the existing workforce (like my first job). Instead, workers were adding value to information, not just processing information.

When I retired, we weren’t just a finance department processing debits and credits. No, we were more than a lean, mean accounting machine. We were multi-generational financial strategists, delivering timely and accurate financial analyses and reports that would keep our city financially resilient long into the future.


Charlie Francis is a municipal finance expert. He has more than forty years of local government financial management experience in both the public and private sector, including twenty years of experience as a Chief Financial Officer. Most recently, he served as the Director of Administrative Services and Treasurer for the City of Sausalito where he earned the unofficial title of “OpenGov super user”.  He has also served as a finance manager for the Town of Colma, CA and as CFO and acting City Manager for the Cities of Indian Wells, CA and Tracy, CA.

Questions or comments? Email Charlie at cfrancis@opengov.com.

Category: Government Finance