Millennials are now taking up about 28% of management roles as of 2020. This means that millions of millennials are taking up leadership roles. With this generation spanning up to the age of 38 (anyone born in 1981), the prospect of being ready for a management role is not all that shocking. Even the youngest millennials are approaching their mid-20s quicker than most of us would care to admit. There’s a lot to be said about this generation and how they operate at work. So, where do you start? What are millennial managers’ top secrets for success?
Secret To Success #1: Invest in learning.
One way to make yourself stand out in the crowd is to always keep a hunger for learning. While you may not have on-the-job experience, keeping yourself knowledgeable will help you be taken seriously as a leader.
A great perk about being a millennial is that you were already equipped with a talent for handling technology. Obviously, the extent of this varies from person to person. Generally, though, it’s much easier for you to understand technological tools that can benefit you in your career. There are countless online platforms that offer management courses beyond a college degree program. These skills can be broad or more niche in nature.
Great leadership depends on knowledge. Constantly pushing yourself to learn automatically sets you apart as an influential component in the workplace. This doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert at every aspect of your job. The main focus here is to show that effort is being put in. The more you know, the more people will follow.
Secret To Success #2: Understand productive communication skills and appropriate ways to give feedback.
Millennials love to receive feedback on their work. In fact, most millennials would rather receive frequent feedback than a yearly performance review. The difficulty with this approach is finding a balance between frequent and constructive feedback.
Often, millennials have felt like systems for constructive criticism have been ineffective for them. The natural solution seemed to be to increase frequency for these meetings. However, in doing so, sometimes the effectiveness of the feedback got lost in translation. That’s not to say that more frequent performance reviews cannot be beneficial.
Increasing performance reviews to quarterly meetings instead of yearly gives the benefits of frequent communication without losing the information’s impact. This also avoids the potential for coming across as a micromanager. It’s important to recognize the behaviors you didn’t like from your former bosses and do your best to avoid using them in your own work.
Secret To Success #3: Don’t be afraid of conflict.
When you work with people, conflict is inevitable. It’s impossible to get along with everyone all the time, unfortunately. Millennials have a hard time dealing with conflict. They would much rather handle situations passively than making someone upset. This isn’t to say that they’re “weaker” than previous generations. Millennials just tend to have a more careful consideration of someone else’s feelings when it comes to disagreements.
The digital space definitely adds to this. Most social media sites and digital communication in general comes with a “block” button. This allows the user to completely block contact with the opposing party. While this is an amazing safety feature, it can create difficulty when having to handle a less-than-ideal real-world situation.
Approaching each conflicting situation maturely and confidently will help establish dominance as a leader while also reminding your coworkers that you’re human. It’s a good idea to implement the first tip here. Learning conflict resolution skills is a great tactic for first-time managers. A lot of these are learned via experience, but some things are possible to be taught through a course.
Secret To Success #4: Sometimes, you may have to put your pride aside for the greater good of your team.
Along the lines of conflict-resolution, difficult decisions will have to be made on your behalf. Not everybody is going to agree with every decision that you make. Remember, your biggest goal is the success of your team. So, even if the grass seems greener when you’re given a shiny new opportunity, make sure that you don’t do it at the expense of your team.
Weighing options is one of the more daunting tasks that a manager’s job description entails. It’s never fun turning down an opportunity that seems like it’ll benefit you. Unfortunately, you lose some flexibility when you step into a managerial role. You may gain flexibility in terms of where and when you can work, but how you can work becomes a bit more rigid.
Your success is largely dependent on your team. But, this is also reversed. Your team’s success is largely dependent on you. Proving yourself as a great leader involves knowing how to do both.
Secret To Success #5: Recognize the change in your dynamic with your coworkers.
If you weren’t hired as a manager, odds are that you have an already-established relationship with your coworkers. This can be great! Some of the best professional relationships that you can create start out as you climb your way up the corporate ladder. Not everyone is going to be on-board with you taking this position of power.
That’s not to say that you’re going to have to, “et tu Brute” your closest work comrades. But, it’s important to remember that some may not be as buddy-buddy with you when you’re in charge. Setting clear boundaries at the very start of your new role is a good idea. This way, your coworkers understand that mutual respect is required for success.
Building this professional relationship is a little bit of a challenge in the current work climate. We want to be friends with our coworkers these days. People would much rather be led by a mentor than a boss. However, you still have to assert your dominance to be a successful leader. The biggest key here is to remember to check-in with yourself. Are you leading the way you’d want to be lead?
Secret To Success #6: Try, but don’t try too hard.
If you’re forcing yourself to be something you’re not, it’ll show. The extreme sides of someone’s personality often come out when they’re granted new levels of power. This is especially true if this power was given rather quickly. It’s tricky to predict the timeline that promotions will come to you, especially depending on your field. But, if you see yourself climbing the corporate ladder, remember to not try too hard.
Millennials are faced with an interesting conflict. It always seems like there’s someone they’re supposed to impress. Whether this is in the workplace or online, they feel like they need to almost play a character. Social media does play a huge part in this. Stereotypically, millennials are drawn to social media because of the instant gratification that comes with gaining likes and comments. The same instant gratification can be found at work in the form of promotions and other compliments.
But, it’s not worth it to give up some of your pride when you’re chasing a promotion. Pleasing your boss is important, of course. Appearing to be a kiss-up isn’t a good look, though. Understanding that more people are watching you at this time will help you analyze your self-awareness.
Respect comes from honesty and trust. If you don’t trust yourself to be a good leader, it’ll show. And if you don’t trust yourself to be a good leader, how are your coworkers supposed to do the same?
This one takes a bit more time to establish. A healthy, trusting relationship takes time to build, regardless of the context. Allow yourself to settle into your new position while remaining self-aware. Try not to lose sight of why you wanted to lead this team in the first place. Having a deeper grasp of the requirements of your new role will help you avoid the potential to come off as a “try-hard.”
Secret To Success #7: Remember that monetary success isn’t the only way to measure it.
One amazing quality that millennials have is a drive to find a higher purpose in their work. This sometimes gets lost when a promotion comes into play. It’s easy to get lost in the monetary statistics of everything. Finding worth in your work beyond financial goals is incredibly important both as a leader and as a person.
From a leadership perspective, it can be disheartening as an employee to feel like your worth is based solely on your sales. If you recognize your team’s talents beyond financial factors, everyone becomes a stronger player.
Additionally, this manifests in other ways. Remaining motivated by work dynamics and big-picture goals will keep the drive that got you hired in the first place. Learning from your coworkers is beneficial both professionally and personally. There are some great lessons that can only be learned from working with other people. Your unique spot as a manager allows you to learn from those who answer to and from you.
Secret To Success #8: Use your love for flexibility wisely.
Millennials are also drawn to a flexible workplace. This dynamic scares some people who are very accustomed to the traditional ways of business. But, the flexibility that millennials crave is actually a very healthy and productive way to get things done.
The biggest example of this is that a more open work schedule allows for a variety of different projects to come in. Your range for clients expands dramatically when your schedule branches out from the classic 9-5. This also allows for more ways to communicate with those clients. If you’re a brand new manager, this is great for you.
Building up a professional network can seem intimidating. But, when you don’t have to clock in and out at the same time every day, it becomes easier to connect. You have the ability to meet someone at a coffee shop to get things done and discuss business goals.
This open-mindedness also helps as you work up that corporate ladder. Knowing where you’re going generally makes it easier to get there. Having the mindset that you’re going to be in a different position a few months or years from now will keep that ambitious spirit running.
Secret To Success #9: Understand company culture.
If you’re freshly promoted, it’s a great idea to welcome the current company culture instead of immediately trying to change it. You need to firmly understand what your company stands for and try to represent that. Trying to implement immediate change will make it harder for your coworkers to accept your authority. Sometimes, doing a complete overhaul gives off the impression (even if that is a false one) of disrespect.
So, a better approach is to embrace it. Perhaps it’s a good time to also see where your coworkers stand with it. See what they’d like to have changed and work from there. Millennials in business thrive with a strong company culture. Showing that you want to emphasize this will make your employees more excited and motivated to work for and with you.
Company culture creates a sense of consistency. It also helps establish those boundaries that are so important in your role as a leader.
Being a new leader is no easy task. There are so many ways that you feel you can fall short. Plus, you lack some experience that you may feel sets you apart in a negative light. However, millennials in management are already changing the business world for the better. Their optimistic perspective and hunger for success set companies up for long-term benefits beyond monetary gain. With a little practice, the secrets to success are equal parts confidence and a balancing act. It’s all a matter of learning the ropes.