The era of Millennial management has arrived
Most employees show up on their first day of work expecting a boss who’s older and wiser than them, but this is becoming less of the norm. Millennials are quickly moving up the corporate ladder and managing each other, leaving organizations to navigate this new dynamic.
Here’s how this new management structure is changing the workplace as we know it.
Often labeled technology-addicted, entitled and job-hopping (to name a few), Millennials are up against many harmful stereotypes at work. Fortunately, younger managers are beginning to quash the generational misperceptions associated with their age. They know first-hand that their age group isn’t lazy or narcissistic; instead, they are a generation seeking purpose in their careers.
Because they have the same needs, Millennial leaders are well-equipped to cater to their employees’ preferences – removing pre-conceived notions of the generation in the process. They realize that Millennials are the “generation of now,” and crave more immediate responsibilities, real-time recognition and feedback on their work when they ask for it. (We talked more about why Millennials prefer a continuous performance management approach in our research paper, Beyond the Annual Review.)
While Millennial leaders have the opportunity to develop better, more personal relationships with their team members, it can also create frustration, jealousy and animosity if not managed properly. Regardless of how managers handle the situation, there will likely be some employees who are uncomfortable being supervised by someone who’s essentially the same age as them – or even younger. It’s always easier to accept feedback and suggestions from a boss who’s more established, tenured and has more years of experience under their belt.
On the other hand, Millennials often find it easier to collaborate with their teams. While most employees would never dream of critiquing a veteran employee or member of the C-suite’s ideas, Millennial managers are able to create environments where their direct reports feel comfortable challenging them and bringing new ideas to the table. Because there’s less disconnect in the manager-employee relationship, Millennial teams are more likely to give honest feedback on ideas or projects and present viable solutions when necessary.
Are you a Millennial manager looking to create the best environment possible for your team? Here are four tips for managing other Millennials in the workplace.
Establish trust and autonomy.
Whether your employees have 10 years of experience or are a fresh out of college, Millennial managers must remember to treat and manage individuals the same, regardless of age. This doesn’t mean you can’t take behavioral nuances and preferences into account. Instead, create a team culture where both trust and independence exist for everyone. When employees trust their boss and have the freedom to do their jobs well, they’ll feel less like a cog and more like a valued member of the team.
Ask Millennials how they want to be managed.
It’s that simple. Though Millennial managers already have a solid understanding of how their peers want to be managed, asking about specific preferences or workstyles is crucial to maintaining and sustaining trust in the relationship. During weekly 1-on-1 check-ins, talk through any roadblocks that are inhibiting an employee’s progress and ask how you can help them achieve their goals.
Understand that your employees won’t work at your company forever.
Changing jobs is inevitable for the modern employee – yet another area where younger managers can relate to their employees. And while you can’t keep your Millennial team members from seeking out other job opportunities, you can help them develop the skills they need to succeed in future roles. An added benefit? Arming them with skills for the future will not only make them better in their current roles, it will boost engagement, leading to enhanced performance and productivity.
Lead the charge for frequent goal-setting.
Young managers understand better than anyone that annual performance reviews are outdated and ineffective. In fact, our recent data study found that 82 percent of Millennial managers ask their workers to establish goals quarterly or more frequently. When an employee achieves said goals, don’t forget to recognize them. While Millennials don’t expect a gold star for every task, recognition still matters. Recognition, like goal-setting, should be a regular habit rather than an infrequent formality.
Though moving from an employee’s peer to their manager isn’t always the easiest transition, Millennial leaders are well-positioned to help their team succeed and reach the next level. Act as an advocate, not a dictator, for your fellow Millennials by checking in frequently, following up on goals and establishing a culture of transparency, trust and autonomy.