Millennials in Management

For the past several years, companies were focused on how to adapt to the youngest generation’s work habits. This group, called “Millennials,” had their own unique personal quirks on the whole that were very different from past the employees of past generations. They were more tech oriented. They were more focused on freedom. They were less married to their jobs. They were showing tendencies that no other generation before them had shown, and it affected recruitment, productivity, and more.

But time has passed. Those same incoming Millennials that companies have been trying to figure out for years are now in their late 20s and early 30s. They’re already a part of the workforce, and not only that – they are now experienced enough that they are not just entering the economy, but leading it, becoming managers and supervisors for some of the most popular companies in Australia and New Zealand.

What it Means to Have Millennials in Management

The term “Millennials” doesn’t necessarily refer to a specific age range, but most people tag Millennials as those born sometime in the mid to late 1980s, all the way until the early 2000s. That means a large percentage are now old enough to take on management positions.

Just as companies needed to adapt to Millennials in the workforce, so too do they now need to recognise the differences that Millennials are about to show as managers and leaders within the company. How will their management style differ from previous generations? What does it mean for your company? How can you best recruit them? What are their strengths?

The following are some of the notes and strategies that you should pay attention to as you hire and promote Millennials to management roles in your company:

  • Many Common But Debatable Business Practices May Be Eliminated

Millennials, as a generation, are sceptical of anything that doesn’t have a clear purpose and value. There are many examples of this in business. Meetings are one example. Millennials believe that meetings only occasionally have value, and often a meeting could have simply been an email. Expect fewer meetings, at least for discussing simple tasks.

Another is performance reviews. Performance reviews, at least in their current form, are largely becoming obsolete, and Millennials are a big part of that. They are considered too subjective and do not necessarily have much effect on productivity. Expect replacements, such as verifiable performance metrics – or perhaps no performance evaluations at all.

  • Just Get the Job Done

Millennial managers are less likely to care about hours, and more likely to care about what work has been completed. This was a common trend when Millennials were younger – they would seek out positions that had a strong work/life balance. As managers, they are going to be far more likely to let someone leave early if they finished their task early, or let them run an errand during the day, or try to initiate policies that allow for a stronger home life.

But they do care about getting the job done. You can also expect Millennials to be frustrated easily with those that do not finish the projects that they were expected to do, and not very tolerant about those that do not meet deadlines – especially if they do not communicate with them first.

  • Different But Equal

Millennials are less impressed by leadership and authority. Which is why when they are actually managers, they are unlikely to treat it like a position of power. Although some fall victim to the “tell people what to do” mentality of managers (which is simply difficult to avoid regardless of generation among managers that have not yet held those positions), many others are going to treat all employees within the company as though they are equal in status, and that they – as manager – are simply expected to make the final decision.

  • Integration of New Technologies

Millennials love their tech. They are a bit more likely to be hung up on finding new tech ways of improving efficiency or productivity, in some cases to the detriment of the company but in other ways as an asset.

For example, a millennial manager may find that they want to try a program like Slack for collaborating between staff members, only to then find that they like Contriber, or eXo Platform, or Fleep, or any of the other Slack-like competitors. They may take the time to initiate it within the company, train the staff, only to switch a few weeks later.

On the one hand, adapting to new technology frequently can be time-consuming, costly, and make organisation difficult. On the other hand, they are more likely to find a new technology that does improve efficiency and helps your company thrive.

  • Almost Overwhelming Support

Within the workplace, relationships matter. You are more likely to find that a millennial manager is almost unfailingly supportive of employees and their work, giving constant praise, building relationships, and doing whatever they can to build a community within the workplace. They may be more likely to ask employees to spend extra time with them, have inside jokes, and create a more friendly environment as well.

  • Recruitment is Similar, But with Key Difference

Millennial manager recruitment is not that different from millennial recruitment for non-management roles. You still need to show that you’re a company that’s fun and interesting, and one that has a strong work/life balance. Indeed, if someone is talented enough to be a manager, you may have to offer even more – flexible vacations and scheduling, fun activities, a relaxed work environment, etc.

But there are some key differences. First, you’ll be more likely to find these candidates on websites like LinkedIn, so you’ll have to integrate that into your job advertisements. Second, you may have to overlook certain features that usually exclude candidates. For example, Millennials are a bit more likely to jump between jobs when their needs are not being met, with the average person staying at a job for only about 2 years.

You’ll need to recognise that even though they may have jumped around, they may still be someone that will make an excellent manager. Some of the indicators of a great manager that companies used to look for, most notably employee loyalty (but also the types of companies they worked for, whether they have always been employed, their experiences with a certain company type, etc.) may not be as relevant, and you’ll need to adapt for this as you consider who to hire for the position.

Adapting to Millennial Management

Just because someone is a Millennial doesn’t mean that they are necessarily going to be that different from other employees of generations past. Yes, Millennials as a whole tend to be generationally different, but every individual is still an individual, and some may find that the more they’re in the workplace, the more they adapt to how the workplace acts.

But millennial managers are coming, and that can mean some key differences in how they act and how they operate. Be prepared for what it may mean, and change your recruitment, training, and expectation accordingly.

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