It’s estimated that by this year, 2020, millennials make up a third of the world’s workforce. That’s right: they make up a third of the global workforce. This means that a large portion of millennials will be leaders in the workforce by this year. They’ll be managing your businesses and it may be difficult to understand how they operate. After all, millennials had still largely been seen as young kids until this point. Now, as they’re approaching their 20’s and 30’s, it’s time to begin taking them seriously as leaders in the workforce. But, how do millennial managers need to be managed? Let’s explore a few myths first.
Myth #1: Millennials are lazy.
There’s been a longstanding myth that this generation is lazier than any of the others before it. This assumption initially derived from their unique perspective on work in general. In other words, this myth started as almost all myths do: as an assumption. And, that’s not to say it was without reason. It’s completely valid and fair to see this newer generation with their headstrong values and think that their approach is simply lazy.
However, millennials may be some of the most driven people in the workforce at the moment. Since they have such a new perspective on careers and work in general, they have to force people to take them more seriously. It’s not easy being the new sheriffs in town.
Their approach to work is equal parts autonomy and collaboration. While they love accomplishing tasks as a team, they can also often gather the initiative to complete them on their own. Some of the people that millennials look up to have started their multi-million dollar operations from their bedroom. It’s an incredibly motivational standard to hold yourself to.
Even if every millennial isn’t creating the next Google, most of them certainly feel that drive.
Myth #2: They’re completely objecting to traditional workplace values.
To complement this headstrong approach to getting things done, millennials are passionate about changing the way that “work” looks. However, this doesn’t mean that every single millennial that rejects the idea of wearing a tie to work also rejects other workplace values. For example, many new managers are taking classic approaches to leadership and helping them evolve.
While office culture changes, their flexibility, and commitment to efficiency should inspire you. Instead of seeing this as a complete overhaul of everything you once knew, use it as motivation. Observe how these young managers are leading your ship and learn from their way of doing things. Who knows? Maybe you’ll ditch your tie and a button-up shirt, too!
Myth #3: They’re entitled.
It’s easy to perceive millennials as entitled. As we’ve mentioned several times already, they’re a group of headstrong individuals who are changing the way we do things. This definitely intimidates traditionalists, and it’s understandable.
Millennials don’t want to be stuck in a career that will just pay the bills. They crave a sense of fulfillment that was present in previous generations but never like now. Keeping millennials engaged within the workplace through inspiring company culture is the key to longevity with hiring them as managers.
Along these lines, they reject micromanagement and a workplace where they don’t feel free to live their lives once they clock out. They don’t always require an impressive salary to be kept happy at work.
Myth #4: They require praise constantly.
When you look at a millennial’s social media feed, it may seem like they’re constantly seeking validation from their peers. This manifests in the form of “likes” and comments on Instagram photos. While social media does provide instant gratification through praise, this doesn’t necessarily transfer over to the workplace.
In fact, most millennials would happily trade transparency and fairness for praise from their boss. They do aim for success, but immediate praise from a leader isn’t all that will define that success for them.
Myth #5: All millennials are technology experts.
When you hire millennial managers, one common mistake and assumption is that all of them are experts with technology. While millennials generally are better off at learning technology than their older superiors, they aren’t always pros. It’s important to remember that they’ll still require more traditional forms of communication, at least occasionally.
Everything moves at a much quicker pace these days. It’s tempting to just send an email or a text. But, much like with any kind of relationship, maintaining healthy communication with your millennial managers is essential. This means that it’s great to check in on them, but you have to make sure that you aren’t micromanaging.
It should also be noted that millennials are generally the best with social media etiquette. If you need a manager to do double-duty and run your Twitter page, a millennial is your best bet. They understand how to gear content to the right demographic for your business. This is an incredibly valuable skill to have in today’s market. A large portion of your marketing is going to be done via social media apps like Twitter and Instagram. In fact, social media is the quickest way to draw in new clients to your business. These platforms allow for instant communication between you and them.
The Truth, Summarized:
- Millennials are driven. When selected to manage large teams, they will work extra care to ensure that everyone’s skills are brought to light. While they might not be an expert at a niche skill, they can find someone who is.
- Millennials are not completely rejecting your traditional workplace values. They see what works in traditional office settings, and are looking to elevate that for the future.
- Millennials are not entitled. They hold high standards for themselves, which will transfer over to them having strong managerial skills.
- Millennials may not always be able to code the next Google, but they can help create an effective social media presence. They understand new business practices such as e-commerce that may be able to help your brand.
So, what is the right way to manage a millennial manager?
Managing this new wave of managers may seem like you’re walking on a tightrope. You want to be a strong leader without being overbearing. You want to show them that you value their input and ideas while still having a firm grip on the reigns. The key here is to sincerely avoid being a micromanager.
What is a micromanager?
A micromanager is a leader in the workplace who obsessively controls operations. This may be in the form of emails, texts, or face-to-face communication. They need constant updates on projects, or they assume that things are not getting done. When offices are being run by micromanagers, employees do not feel a sense of freedom.
This sense of freedom is especially important when you’re allowing a millennial manager to take charge. You have to remember the power that you hired them on with. They don’t need you to parent them. When you give them an even balance of space to complete tasks, their results may shock you! Their productivity and commitment to efficiency can propel your business to the next level if you let them.
Other Factors to Consider
Millennial managers are likely to change the way your ship is being run. Their approach to managing a team is far different than other generations that came before them. While the key to managing them is to avoid micromanaging habits, it’s also important to note some standout habits in millennial leadership.
For starters, a millennial manager is going to value individual growth. They are going to want to see their employees thrive, naturally, but they’re also going to want this to happen on behalf of said employee. In short, they’re less likely to implement certain training processes that previous generations may have emphasized. Since many courses are available online for free in niche skills, this isn’t too heavy of a request.
Their ethical viewpoints are also going to play a huge part in the way they run things. That’s not to say that every millennial leader is going to be a self-proclaimed “social justice warrior.” They simply have a more acute view of the world around them. This is largely due to media exposure. Their generation was exposed to more forms of media than any before them. Between the news and a glance on Twitter on any given day, these new leaders are constantly seeing the world around them. The benefit in this is that we’ll likely be seeing more ethically-sound business practices in the future.
Along those lines, many new managers are hiring people that can work remotely. Working from home is becoming increasingly common. There are countless ways that people can make a living from their couch or home office.
They’re taking into account the increased productivity that freelance employees can provide. Since working from home allows for more flexible hours, this new way of getting things done can quickly cross tasks off to-do lists. That’s not to say it’s an easy cop-out, though.
Naysayers are quick to point out that allowing so much freedom to millennial managers will quickly diminish the classic workflow that you’re used to. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The new ways that millennials are finding to get things done have improved functionality.
The flexibility of hiring freelancers goes beyond their work schedule. They are able to focus on ongoing projects, while other employees within the business can work on one-off tasks. This also helps with productivity within the office. Contracted employees offsite create a stabilized and more focused workplace internally.
Millennial managers are also changing the way feedback is given to employees. Yearly reviews are almost a thing of the past. It’d be inaccurate to say that they’re completely retiring this practice. They’re more so evolving it. Younger employees tend to thrive with more regular feedback. So, younger managers are definitely going to follow suit.
The Mentor Approach
Since these new leaders are still younger, they’re filled with a hunger to learn. Making yourself appear as more of a mentor than a manager will keep your leadership team engaged. Millennials are seeking an elevated sense of fulfillment. As a mentor, you’d provide knowledge that will encourage them in their new role.
This is not to say that you should step back entirely as their boss. A good mentor is a friend and a leader. The biggest difference between being a mentor and a boss is allowing your employee to make their own decisions. As management, they should be able to do so anyway.
However, a lot of the way things used to be run prevent managers from taking the reins. Often, in the workplace, the structure that was used in the past doesn’t allow new managers to express their leadership skills. As you guide them, remember the way that things are changing.
Teaching millennial managers core leadership skills while being a role model may sound like a lofty goal. But, fostering an environment where their unique skills can thrive is incredibly beneficial. This generation harbors a great overall mindset. Their empathy and drive to push beyond material success are wonderful for your business.
Standing out in today’s highly saturated market can be difficult. It may seem like everyone is one step ahead of you. Having leadership that understands how to stand out here is crucial for survival. Allowing them to have more control over things as managers instead of fearing change may be what you need to see the success you desire.
Remember, millennials are very close to being the generation that leads everyone else. This applies to both business settings and generally around the world. Training millennials to lead is exceptionally important right now.
Essentially, millennial managers thrive under leadership that’s firm but fair, structured but flexible, and focused on ethics. Implementing these tools into your management team will propel them to their highest potential. Micromanaging is a negative behavioral issue in any office, but it is especially ineffective with millennials. Remember, they are not entitled. They just have high standards.