Millennials aren’t kids anymore. These are adults that range from age 23 to 38 as of 2019. That’s a really large gap. In fact, this gap is so large that it makes it much harder to group them together and generalize personality traits. However, there still are similarities and a sense of common ground within this large generation. As they step off the graduation podium and into the “real world,” it’s important to look at how they’re going to be leading our businesses. Their mindset is new and exciting and understanding their perspective can elevate your business to the next level. Here's what you need to know about millennial managers.
#1: They’re focused on creating a positive workplace culture.
Company culture is a huge deal to millennials. They’re looking for a sense of fulfillment that goes beyond the typical 9 to 5 career that has been explored in previous generations. That’s not to say that they completely reject any and every aspect of traditional office settings. However, they’re all about inclusivity and harnessing people’s natural talents. When they’re hiring new recruits for your team, they’ll make sure they find people with potential that can be nurtured. This diversity and emphasis on personal values make your business more attractive.
New candidates are likely to be interested in working for your business if the company culture is appealing. Creating this balance is a little tricky, but it’s worth it if you’re willing to put in the work. When your employees are happy with their work environment, they’re more likely to stay working with you for a longer period of time. In today’s economy and a highly saturated market, holding loyal employees is a difficult and daunting task. But, millennial managers understand how to keep them engaged.
#2: They understand the value of social media marketing.
Viral posts on social media can propel your business into a heightened level of success. Individual content creators have made entire careers based on viral posts. Short-form content is king right now. The video platform TikTok has over 500 million users globally. That’s a huge reach for potential customers or clients! Having managers on your leadership team that understand how to use the platform is important in today’s market. If you get that one viral post, your business could reach heights you didn’t know were possible.
Even if going viral isn’t your goal, a comprehensive approach to social media is important in modern business practices. Talking to your audience in an approachable and professional manner helps with customer service and branding at once. Communicating directly through platforms like Instagram and Twitter brings you closer to your customers or clients.
Having a distinct voice on these platforms also helps you stand out. No one knows memes and online culture better than (most) millennials. As mentioned, they’re the first to turn that into their own kind of business. When you let them actively use social media to help with yours, the results can be impressive.
#3: They thrive off of a more communicative feedback system.
The yearly performance review is going out of style, and it’s happening quickly! Millennials would much rather give consistent feedback than using the yearly approach. This isn't a bad thing. If employees can see where they need to improve as issues arise, fewer problems will show in the future. They’ll be able to nurture the skills they were hired based on in the first place.
The only issue with this approach is the potential for the feedback quality to lack occasionally. It’s important to understand what feedback is constructive and what isn’t. Having frequent, constructive feedback is possible if there’s a system put in place that’s productive and structured. A good idea for this is to outline weekly goals for employees and have managers give feedback based on them.
#4: Their flexible outlook on work makes them accessible through virtual communication.
It’s no secret that millennials can adapt to new technology easier than previous generations. This is because they’ve seen quite a large gap in advancements throughout their lives. Many started off listening to music via cassette tapes and now they’re streaming their favorite playlists on Spotify.
Knowing how to work technology transfers to the workplace, but perhaps not in the way you may expect at first glance. Not every millennial manager is going to know how to code an app. But, their knowledge of technology transfers over to productivity effortlessly. So long as there’s a wifi connection, a millennial manager will be able to work from anywhere.
Naturally, not every position is going to warrant this. But, being able to work outside of traditional business hours is a valuable asset for productivity. This also makes communication more effective. Emails and texts provide an opportunity for instant communication. The trick here is to make sure that you avoid micromanaging. Balancing frequent updates and trust is difficult, but possible.
#5: Collaboration and teamwork are incredibly important.
While millennials do work autonomously, they also value a strong sense of collaboration. Older generations often poke fun at the idea of “participation medals.” But, since millennials were the generation to receive these, they’re the first to also implement this mentality in the workplace. They are great at fine-tuning systems that allow for productive teamwork.
They also almost reject the idea of a hierarchy. Of course, leadership roles are still going to be distinguishable and important. However, they’re great at understanding how someone else’s skill set is going to differ from their own. Millennials have a unique talent for harnessing other people’s skills and using them in a collaborative effort.
Since this generation has such a vast age range, they may sometimes feel a generational gap amongst each other. For example, older millennials are still using Facebook while younger ones are spending time on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. At work, this allows for everyone’s talents to shine and helps avoid micromanaging. Typically, a millennial grew up going to summer camps and participating in school clubs where teamwork was heavily valued. Their continued passion as managers for this makes sense.
Collaborative efforts require a delicate balance. When conflict arises, a good manager will be able to resolve it effectively and respectfully. Passive-aggressive behaviors also need to be kept in check. For millennials, facing conflict may be difficult. They have the ability to block someone in a digital space if they make them uncomfortable. Unfortunately, real-life doesn’t come with a “block” button.
#6: Their personal values are incredibly important.
While we discussed earlier that company culture is a big deal to millennials, it’s important to remember that their personal values are, as well. They view the world much differently than previous generations did. Their open-mindedness and general dedication to acceptance are wonderful for a professional environment. Acceptance from a business perspective makes you appear to be more accessible to both customers and potential employees.
The only potential downfall here is that it becomes tricky to avoid being disengaged. Idealistic management can be damaging for a team if people are just there to get tasks done. Enthusiastic managers are wonderful and will bring something new to the workplace. But, for those who are into traditional career paths, it’ll be much harder to adapt.
#7: Their idea of success branches out beyond material gain.
Numbers are going to be important in business for the rest of time. It’s an unavoidable “side-effect” of dealing with money and other analytics. However, millennials often saw the negative effects of watching their parents feel trapped in a career that wasn’t fulfilling. They’re looking to change that path for themselves and find something that satisfies the soul and the wallet.
Obviously, this is a daunting task. Everyone has their dream career. We all envision waking up in the morning and commuting to a job that feels more like a hobby. Millennials are the first generation to be able to materialize these hobbies into long-lasting career paths.
With social media, many everyday people are becoming “influencers.” This often means that they started with a hobby, created a viral post or two, and turned it into a career. The array of short-form content platforms (as mentioned earlier) makes this process even easier.
Many millennials transfer this mindset into a more traditional career path, as well. They take what they’re most passionate about and turn it into a business. Since these managers are running their passion as a job, the effort they put in will show. Their leadership is often much stronger because of their dedication to their cause or field.
The only downside with this is, once again, a more idealistic approach to management. They may also have a too clear vision for their goals. This will make them unapproachable as leaders if it’s taken too far.
#8: Their high standards transfer over to the workplace.
Along these lines, millennials are known for having high standards. These standards created a rumor that they’re the “entitled” generation and want everything handed to them. This couldn’t be farther from the case. Their high standards just mean that they don’t settle for anything less than the dream-career that we mentioned earlier.
If anything is sub-par, millennials (both general employees and managers) are more willing than previous generations to leave. They’re not going to choose a job over their mental health or happiness. This can work out in a business’s favor. On one hand, this weeds out anyone that isn’t fit for your team.
On the other hand, this makes things difficult for longevity. In this new world of virtual management and remote employment, employees can come and go as quickly as the latest trending topics. Good management teams need to adapt to this new movement and find a hiring process that works efficiently.
#9: Not all millennial managers are going to be super chill in their approach to leadership.
Mentorship works best when managing a millennial manager. They respect leaders who guide them instead of micromanaging them. But, when they’re leading their own team, things may be a little different. Their approach is definitely different in comparison to their older counterparts.
Many people mistake their work-from-home approach for being a more lax management tactic. This choice boils more down to the flexibility we mentioned earlier. Millennials crave a perfectly even work-life balance. The best way to achieve that is to have flexible scheduling.
The trick here for millennial leaders is that they need to be taken seriously. While this may not be in the form of strict scheduling, it needs to be in other facets of business. Having stricter rules elsewhere, such as adhering to company culture, may help them be taken seriously.
#10: Change with them in charge will not be overnight.
If a millennial manager is coming into an already-established workplace, they’re not going to completely overhaul everything at once. They’re going to want to test the waters and see how things are currently being run. Also, this means that they’ll respect the company’s culture as-is.
If millennials have a hard time being taken seriously by their peers, their older coworkers are an even tougher crowd to please. Millennials were raised with a myriad of misconceptions being told about them and the way they are. From their taste in music and media to their work ethic, millennials have been put under a microscope from day one.
As new leaders, the challenge is navigating these waters as beginners. They need to establish their dominance in a world that often rejects change. Knowing that, they understand that it’s impractical to expect to change a company within the first year or so of being in a management position. Any changes they want to make will be implemented throughout a long career.
The generational divide within the workplace can be difficult to understand at first glance. A new group of leaders is taking over, it’s inevitable. However, if we all establish a better viewpoint of each other’s perspective, we can live harmoniously. Accepting change makes better leaders and better employees, in general. Adaptation is key in any business.