One aspect of Millennials which has not been examined very heavily (perhaps because it only yet exists in limited forms) is the study of how Millennials act as managers within the workplace. Do you have someone under the age of 35 in a management position at your business? Are you considering hiring or promoting someone of that generation to management?
Researchers and theorists have made several guesses as to what changes Millennial managers are about to send down the pike as more and more of them are promoted into leadership roles. A surprising number of different sources all concur around the same few points. Here’s what you can be prepared to see in the future:
The end of performance reviews and standard productivity measurement. This is not because Millennials don’t want feedback or criticism — it’s actually they want more of those things! The idea of an annual performance review (or even six-month review) feels less-than-helpful to this generation. They want immediate feedback on their work and they want their effort measured in a way which isn’t a black-and-white, success=sales scale. Chip Espinoza, author of Millennials as Managers, predicts Millennials will find an informal, more frequent way to give feedback to employees and that a new way to measure performance will become more common. “This generation of managers is going to identify metrics that determine whether people are productive or not,” says Espinoza. “Things like key performance indicators will continue to be a movement.”
‘Work-Life balance’ will become a dated term. Instead, the concept will be replaced with ‘work-life blend’. This new term is popping up everywhere — from Forbes to Inc. Magazine to the Huffington Post and more. The idea? Instead of the pressure to keep personal life and work life separate, we should acknowledge both are integral pieces of our lives. Since technology has given us the freedom to work on the go more than ever before, most Millennials have no problem doing some work out of the office. But in an effort to avoid creating workaholic expectations, they expect there to be some flexibility when in the office. Allowing personal matters to be taken care of at work and losing the rigidness of the 9-to-5 is part of this new goal. As Millennials come into authority positions, expect to see this ‘blend’ become a priority over ‘balance.’
More transparency. Millennials value openness and honesty. Writer Dave Mattson of Sandler Training and Jessica Stillman of Inc. Magazine have both penned articles which reference a greater wave of company transparency coming in the future. “Full disclosure on salary, company processes, and trade secrets are appreciated by Millennials, and this in turn will lead them to be open with their staff as managers,” said Mattson. “They want a workplace to be an open environment for ideas that will lead to company growth and success.”
Creative risk-taking. Mattson also points out Millennial managers are going to take more risks. He explains: “Unlike previous generations that kept their head down and focused on retaining job security, Millennials are much more comfortable with taking risks and thinking outside the box. These creative trailblazers focus less on their place in a company, and instead look at the big picture.” This generation has been known to “float” from job to job and doesn’t necessarily see themselves at the same company long term. That attitude helps remove the pressure of perfect performance, allowing them to not fear riskier endeavors. And those ideas are definitely going to be out-of-the-box! Claudia Gioia, president and CEO of H+K Strategies Latin America published an entire article on The Holmes Report titled “Fortunately, the Largest Workforce in History is also the most Creative: The Millennials.” Technology, changes in social norms, and the connectedness of social media have all made this era the ideal time to enact ideas that formerly would not have succeeded; Millennials are taking full advantage of these opportunities. Of course, with creative problem solving and fearless risk-taking, there will also be mistakes and missteps which can be expected. As you integrate more Millennials into management positions, it is important to account for both the steps forward and backward entrepreneurial attitudes always bring about.
Undoubtedly, the modern American workplace will see more shifts than just these few as Millennials move up the ladder. Whether those changes will be permanent or just temporary fads, only time will tell.
Emily Enger is a millennial farm kid turned farm journalist. She also works in marketing, serving as Communications Director for a nonprofit that covers nine rural counties in northern Minnesota. These opinions are her own and should not take the place of legal or professional advice. To comment or pitch future topics, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For reprint permission, email editor Joan Kark-Wren at email@example.com.