The challenges of recruiting and retaining Millennials have been well-documented. They’re demanding. If they don’t find meaning in their work, they’ll go someplace else. They expect flexibility in how they do their job. To hear many recruiters, managers and HR professionals tell it, Millennials are an exceptionally challenging generation of employees.
Now they’re becoming managers, and that could pose new challenges to HR organizations that have already struggled with Gen Y’s approach to work. For example, citing a study by EY, USAToday says that Millennial managers are often seen as entitled and don’t score well as team players.
Whether you like their approach or not, “Millennials as managers won’t be that much different from Millennials as workers,” Josh Bersin, Principal at Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting, LLP, told me. He notes that Millennials have different values and work experiences than their predecessors, which they’ll bring to their roles as managers.
For example, Millennials expect organizations to be transparent. The idea that budgets, salaries, diversity data and similar information should be restricted isn’t going to play well among the generation that grew up with Facebook. “Millennials are pushing organizations hard to be transparent about a lot of things that were kept secret before,” Bersin says. As managers, they’ll be in a position to press directly on HR to provide access to more information.
Expect to hear more demands for flexibility, too. Whether it’s the hours they’re in the office or how they approach a particular problem, Millennials tend to seek the solutions that work for them. HR, which often acts as a steward for carefully crafted policies and procedures, will be pushed to accommodate new approaches to any number of management issues.
“Millennial managers are not going to do something the way it’s always been done just because it’s always been done that way — especially if it doesn’t make sense to them,” writes Brad Karsh in his book Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management.
And if you haven’t yet begun re-thinking how you conduct performance reviews, you may want to consider what your Gen Y managers think about a traditional, checklist-style approach. Already, many organizations making their appraisals focus less on critiquing and more on coaching. That fits with Millennials’ expectations of a more open, communicative work environment.
Though their approach to work is different, Millennials will face the same challenges as other managers in leading their teams and meeting their goals. To support them, HR will have to be flexible, responsive and collaborative. Millennials are growing up, but, as Bersin notes, they’re not going to suddenly change their behavior just because they’ve gotten a management job.
Mark Feffer has written, edited and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology. His work has appeared on Dice.com and Entrepreneur.com as well as on other top sites. He is currently writing for JobsinNH.com, the top local resource for job seekers, employers and recruiters in New Hampshire.