Last weekend, I attended my “baby” sister’s college graduation. As I sat there looking at the sea of graduates in their early 20s with all the possibilities that lie ahead of them, I began to think about the changes most of them will experience as they start full-time, professional jobs. It’s likely that a lot of these Generation Z graduates will be entering a job with a Millennial for a manager, as the time when Millennials' are the youngest generation in the workforce is coming to an end.
As expected, when a new generation replaces its predecessor, workplaces will change as more Millennials become leaders and managers in their organizations. Here’s what we can expect from Millennial leaders in the workplace:
- Value in Flexibility – Much has been written about the fact that Millennials value flexibility and work-life balance. Of course, a lot of this doesn’t have to do with Millennials themselves, but the fact that technology enables us to blur the lines between work and personal life. Smartphones allow us to check work email outside of the office, late at night and early in the morning, but they also allow us to order household items or birthday presents from our office desks with a few clicks. Since most Millennials entered a Blackberry or smartphone workforce, they are completely comfortable with the blending of work and personal obligations. As managers, they are more likely to extend this flexibility to those they manage, too. Although France established a “right to disconnect” law earlier this year that requires companies with more than 50 employees to set hours when emails should not be sent or answered, we probably won’t see this kind of legislation in the U.S. anytime soon.
- Focus on Metrics – Related to increased flexibility, more companies with the ability to have remote employees are allowing individuals to work remotely. In many professional jobs, facetime was once part of the currency with which job success was measured, but now managers and leaders must find new ways to judge employees’ productivity. Enter: Metrics. If a leader can’t judge his/her employees by whether they’re showing up to work on time and working straight through the day at the office, they’ll likely turn to objective productivity and efficiency metrics to judge performance.
- Development as a Priority – Millennials reportedly seek feedback more frequently than Generation X'ers and Baby Boomers. As managers, they are therefore probably more likely to naturally incorporate feedback into their work. Rather than waiting for the annual performance review, they end meetings with questions like, “Why was that such an unproductive meeting?” and candidly ask their co-workers and employees how they could improve. Creating a culture of feedback isn’t easy, but it probably comes more naturally to Millennials. Continuous improvement is one of the main goals of feedback, and having a Millennial leader may mean more emphasis on development.
As Millennials continue to take leadership roles in organizations and Generation Z’ers enter the work place, we’ll see if Millennials begin bemoaning all the issues they’re having with the younger generation. If history is any indication, they will, but maybe technology will be the bridge that connects these two generations.