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5 tips to better understand millennial managers

Sarah K. White | Sept. 7, 2016
If you aren't already managed by a millennial, chances are you soon will be as these young workers quickly take on leadership roles in corporate America.

Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, which means they're quickly infiltrating every rank in corporate America -- especially middle management. While millennials want much of the same things as previous generations, they also have different values and expectations for their employers.

And chances are, if you haven't been managed by a millennial yet, you will be soon. A survey from Future Workplace and Beyond found that 83 percent of respondents said they have seen millennials managing Gen-X and Baby Boomer employees in their workplace. But, 45 percent still think that these young managers have a negative impact on the company culture.

Bruce Tulgan, founder of RainmakerThinking, a management consulting firm, and author of multiple books on millennial workers and soft skills, points to a number of influences on millennial managers that past generations may not have experienced at the same point in their own careers.

For instance, Tulgan says businesses are experiencing rapid digital transformation, they're under pressure to run leaner and to do more with less, employees face a lack of job security and the workplace has changed drastically in the past 10 years. But those challenges also serve to shape millennial leaders, and can give some insight into why their management styles may differ from others.

Brand-conscious managers

Millennials have grown up with social media and technology and it's second nature to most of them. And that also means they're accustomed to fine-tuning their personal brands, according to Kendall Wayland, vice president of operations at Uproar PR and head of the human resource department. Just like they fine tune their personal brands, millennial managers will personalize their management techniques as well.

"They do not take on the cookie cutter role of a traditional boss, but instead embrace their own unique working style, helping shape and mold a more positive corporate culture by encouraging people to be themselves and speak their mind," he says.

Changing corporate culture

The future of work no longer rests in a 40 hour nine to five work week. Businesses have become more casual, allowing for more flexibility in schedules, especially now that most of us can work from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.

Millennials are pushing the boundaries of what's "appropriate" in the workplace, says Wayland. They're challenging established norms, such as paternity leave, dress codes and corporate wellness programs. "They respect the importance of work-life balance, understanding that happy, healthy employees will produce the best results and increase retention rates," says Wayland.


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