Leading and Managing Millennials
By Tricia Hay and David Tovey
While we shouldn’t try to stereotype and entire generation, one thing is certain; Millennials (born 1982-2004) have different expectations of management than Generation X (ages 35-50). Their main expectation? Millennials want managers who understand and demonstrate leadership, and fundamentally that means managers who ‘get’ people.
“100% of employees are people, 100% of customers are people. If you don’t get people you don’t get business”
For anyone confused about the difference between management and leadership, top leaders when interviewed about management, tend to talk about skills and efficient business outcomes and when asked about leadership they talk about the people focused character and behaviours of a manager. Management and leadership of course go together and particularly when it comes to Millennials.
It tended to be a top down management style that created high performing Generation X teams and Millennials don’t take too well to top down hierarchical management styles. When researching potential new employers, Millennials quickly dismiss companies with a reputation for ‘old style’ management and they actively search for those with a reputation for looking after their people. This means they look for personal development, respect, coaching, collaboration and mentoring.
Personal development and training
Millennials are keen to invest in their careers and tend not to be interested in the ‘time served’ notion of career advancement. For Millennials career progression isn’t just about promotion, it’s about learning new things, doing interesting work and feeling that they are making a genuine contribution to something more than their day job.
Gone are the days of annual reviews for Millennials, they perform much better with regular feedback and guidance from their managers. They have inhabited a world where just in time information is available through multiple digital channels and excel when their managers are good at providing bite sized coaching. This not only help improve their performance but increases their loyalty to the organisation. According to a 2017 survey by Delloitte, young staff who are mentored stay with an employer twice as long as staff who don’t have a manger who provides coaching. Millennials thrive on on-line training to supplement formal training sessions.
Millennials take control of their careers
Some employers might think of Millennials as fickler and less loyal than the previous generation. Remember that they grew up watching Generation X being made redundant from specialist jobs they had committed their whole lives to without having many or any transferable skills.
Millennial’s take control of their careers and will seek other roles with other companies if they feel stifled in their current position. They are not afraid to make a move that provides the stimulus and modern management culture they want. That’s why it is so important to do more than manage them in their current role. Help them to develop their skills in a way that will support their career ambitions and you also build a reservoir of enthused and talented people who will help to drive the organisation forward.
A bigger purpose
Millennials want to know that their work makes a difference. They want to know how they fit into the bigger picture and how they are connected to the overall mission and values of the company. Poor managers who fail to inspire will often resort to the ‘because I say so” reason to carry out a task. Leaders who get the best out of Millennials get them fired up by being open and explaining why the task matters.
Collaboration and teamwork
Millennials prefer to collaborate with colleagues and teams and are not in awe of their managers. They tend to think of ‘bosses’ as team captains rather than their owners, as peers not superiors. There to facilitate the performance of the team not to brow beat efficiency and productivity out of them.
Understanding how to get the best out of Millennials is good business. They have grown up in a different time, have different expectations of the world of work and want to be treated with respect. They can teach all of us a thing or two about how best to treat all people, from whichever generation.