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Whirling Chief
Nº 15

Managing Millennials

The PewResearch Center published a wonderful article in 2010 about Millennials, “Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.1 (Full report here.)

Now, I know many of the older generation – including my parents 🙂 – sometimes thinks the new generation has lost certain values and are ‘different’ or ‘difficult to understand’ at times. I can appreciate their point of view. In all fairness, the new generation is less traditional, less religious, more diverse, more expressive, and may appear to be ‘always connected’.

There are, however, wonderful qualities Millennials share that no one ever talks about and, for the record, I wouldn’t be willing to exchange for with any other generation. Millennials do understand human nature more than any generation before them1, they follow politics closely1, they’re way less critical than earlier generations, and they respect the elderly, kids, and different life choices – all this regardless of their geography and levels of income. And…they are the most educated generation (on average) to date1.

It is also true that they demand more transparency, better work-life balance, higher equality, less formality and more technology. I couldn’t agree more with these sentiments. Bravo, Millennials!

“What I do love about this all – is that millennials are going to undoubtedly push us, ‘the chiefs of something or other’ to give ‘a care’.”

The difficulty with the Millennial identity, of course, is the demand required to manage it. Let’s be honest: This group is ever curious, looks for transparency and rationale before reaching an agreement, seeks creative ways to collaborate, and demands communication channels to stay open, which puts them two steps ahead of the current management practices.

What I do love about all this is that Millennials are going to undoubtedly push us, the “chiefs of something or other,” to give ‘a care’ over time. Yup. No more top down management techniques, totalitarian voice of communication, or formal measurement processes are required. If we want to manage this new era effectively, we need to create an environment that cherishes the balance between the older generation and younger generations’ values, and brings out the best in all of us. How? Here are a few ideas:

  • Embrace differences: We all have different strengths we bring to the workplace. Matching experience with new skills is often the path to discovery and innovation. Why not consider embracing our individuality and stay open to learning from others?
  • Assign tasks on a knowledge base: I love the idea of strengths-based management. People coming from different generations and backgrounds are going to have a different knowledge base. Why not manage to that and turn it into an organizational advantage? Consider a nursing home in Netherlands, which has allowed university students to live in for free…in exchange for their support of the elderly2. What a beautiful reciprocation of resources and support!
  • Create meaning: No matter what generation one is from, people want to know their skills and contribution matter for the greater good. Why not show our employees how their individual contribution is making an impact on the broader vision?
  • Nurture intergroup relationships: Any time two individuals from different backgrounds come together to work on a mutual goal, trust building is necessary to create a stable foundation. Why not consider creating social groups that bring those from different generations together to build relationships? Having trust as a base can help decrease the likelihood of miscommunication and fear.
  • Allow for ‘life’ to be: Times are different and evolving. Many of us care to have a certain balance in our lives – whatever that balance may look like to us. It’s time we give up trying to set boundaries around how people should live their lives or behave at the work place, and instead shift our focus on the outcomes and the intellectual property people bring. For this, why not keep a focus on life itself?

2 uk.businessinsider.com


  • 13 July 2016

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