In the past decade, millennials — people born in the early 80s to the early 90s — have started to join the corporate world. And in just a few years, they will make up the biggest portion of the workforce, with many of them moving up to managerial roles. In fact, some of them are already holding high positions.
However, according to a 2013 Ernst & Young study involving 1,215 professionals, millennials are seen as entitled managers concerned more about individual promotion and less on teamwork. They are less than ideal managers compared to earlier generations such as the Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers.
That’s only for now, though. The same survey revealed that millennials will be the most effective leaders by 2020. This means that millennials are like diamonds in the rough – the potential is there; just a bit of polishing should be enough to bring out the shine.
But it’s still seven years from now until 2020. What can millennials do to become better managers before then? If you’re a millennial, and you aren’t able to put yourself through professional leadership training, here are a few suggestions:
- Learn from mentors: Currently, millennials are the youngest members of the workforce. Thus, you have plenty of opportunities to look for older mentors who can give you guidance and advice on your career, especially regarding management. Wisdom comes with age and experience – two things millennials don’t have, but the preceding generations generally have in abundance. If you’re willing to look hard enough, you’ll find older folks who’ll be happy to impart their knowledge with you.
- Engage employees: Millennials have been often accused of being self-absorbed, which isn’t surprising because these people grew up exposed to narcissism on the Internet. Therefore, you should make a conscious effort to reach out to your subordinates and find out how they’re doing, what challenges and inspires them, etc. Touch base with them on a regular basis so that you can build meaningful connections.
- Be a leader, not just a manager: As a young manager, you’ll find that older subordinates may have a hard time seeing you as an authority figure. Some may even resent having you as a manager because of your age. It’s a challenge you’ll have to deal with whatever industry you’re in. In this situation, millennials should establish credibility through leading. When you lead, you focus on coaching people, not on issuing commands. As a result, your subordinates will feel valued and respected.
- Embrace technology: Keep up with the latest technological developments so that you’re always updated on new tools you can use to help you become a better manager. Better yet, look out for solutions that can help your team collaborate more easily with one another. Millennials grew up on technology, so this particular advice shouldn’t be too hard for you to heed.
Millennials may not be ideal managers at the moment, but these people are still young with so much to learn. Don’t worry if you make mistakes at first. You’ll learn valuable lessons from them which will help you find the management style you’re most comfortable with. For now, have fun finding your way!