According to 2017 Pew Research statistics, one in three participants in the US job market is part of the Millennials years range (1982-1999), forming the largest work demographic. The statistics are also comparable to those of other major economies such as India and China. As Baby Boomers and Gen Xers slowly transition into the sunsets of their careers, more managerial positions are up-for-grabs by Millennials. This sets up the now common scenario where Millennial leadership is put in charge of other Millennials, leading to an unfamiliar work situation.
While it isn’t uncommon for managers to supervise members within the same age group, Millennial traits in the workplace are quite vastly different and companies which want to whether this new phase has to sufficiently adapt themselves to the changes. The often top-down approach employed by companies are drastically changing to suit the needs of this group, which is talented, hardworking and extremely motivated.
Here are a few tips and skills needed for managers who are themselves Millennials managing other Millennials.
1. Leading Vs Managing: Understand the Difference
There is always the fear of failure and undelivered KPIs when you’ve been put in charge of your own team, leading you into overdrive. Simply put, “a leader will make the most investment in people” while “a manager will make an investment in performance and results”.
Knowing where to draw the line is crucial because Millennials’ idea of a manager is more of a team-captain, responsible for directing the shared vision, as opposed to a bureaucratic owner whose only purpose is to derive results through whatever means. Millennials in leadership roles need to clearly tow the line between these two principles if they want to be successful.
2. The Mark Zuckerberg Management Style
Zuckerberg’s successful management style is renowned to those familiar with him. With immense financial and corporate success even before his thirties and still being able to remain humanly grounded as billionaire CEO, what does he do differently? Surrounding himself with the right people (mostly Millennials), delegating heavily and investing in those working under him.
Most importantly, Zuckerberg prides Facebook in having a shared vision and higher purpose to fulfill, core-values shared by all other employees.
3. Understand that Millennials Communication Skills are Dynamic
Forget about the bureaucracy that surrounded your typical corporate communication. Millennials are highly receptive of everyday feedback, make use of technology the prime method of their communication so an occasional Skype conference call, in case of urgency, will suffice, but at the same time will make space for a face-to-face if demanded. This versatility should work well and keep things moving faster for you as a fellow Millennial manager.
4. Leading Millennials Requires You Share Their Aspirations
Contrary to popular belief, Millennials too aspire for the same benefits and career prospects of preceding generations, such as becoming C-Suite leaders. While the prospects of getting the complete package such as early retirement and a million-dollar pension are seemingly dwindling, Millennials still need a role that offers compromise and hope.
Being a good manager will require you to share those aspirations, present new opportunities for employee growth and training, and make situations better for those working below you. Training Millennials in the workplace on new skills is one sure way of attracting and retaining the best talent.
5. Fully Exploit the Strengths of Millennials
It is common for Millennials to feel underutilized with regards to their strengths. The greatest asset Millennials is their affinity for technology (not just social media) which is almost second nature to them. These great varieties of talents should always be utilized and rewarded.
6. Being a Young Manager Requires Listening and Great Patience
Millennials love to share their ideas and have those ideas given consideration if they are viable. Managing Millennials means making listening part of your daily routine. Consult widely but be decisive. Always give credit where it is due and be a diplomat if you want to earn the respect of your teammates.
Being a Millennial manager also means to:
- Provide employees with an open door policy
- Showing that you care greatly about Millennial leadership development yourself
- Leading by example
- Being open and honest with your juniors about their performance and your expectations of them
- Have a clear mechanism for resolving in-house disputes
7. Learn From Your Team
Yes, they are your teammates and their input should be highly valued. If you come across as a know-it-all to your fellow Millennials, they will, in turn, become condescending towards you. Learn to give direction, critique positively, but also give independence and don’t overstep.