Millennials in the workplace are many a writer’s favorite target. This weekend, the New York Times jumped on board with gusto in an article about the horrors of having millennials manage (gasp!) a workplace. It’s a fun topic – kids these days! They lie about attending funerals in order to blog about building tree houses. (Baby boomers have never lied, after all.) They eat smelly tuna sandwiches in meetings! (GenXers don’t even eat!) It goes on to list their sins – they’re frank to the point of rudeness, want grandiose titles they didn’t earn and disdain things like mail. So never, ever put them in charge, right? Wrong. They’re not going to get off of the lawn, and a lot of their generational traits will make them good managers.
Hysteria: “They have no boundaries!”
Real-Life: They’re able to be transparent. In 2014, a study by the American Psychological Association found that only ½ of American workers believe their employer is open and up front with them. Employers know that more transparency is necessary to keep employees. “Employees don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses,” according to CareerBuilder. So why not put people in charge who value transparency and have the skills to implement it? Creating an atmosphere of transparency will command loyalty and create more productive organizations.
Hysteria: “They share everything!”
Real Life: They’re willing to give frequent feedback instead of relying on the less effective once or twice a year performance review. Since they don’t equate hard work with who can sit at their desk the longest, millennials are more like to inspire creative work in others and give feedback about that work – good and bad – as it happens. This connection with employees has the capacity to create strong bonds and a lot of teamwork and loyalty.
Hysteria: “They don’t respect authority!”
Real Life: The New York Times piece aside, most millennials work in traditional workplaces with hierarchies in places that, yes, they’re working just fine with. But they did grow up in an environment that was more horizontally networked. Letting that be a strength instead of something that needs to be overcome means managers who are more willing to work toward mutual goals instead of focusing solely on their own success. Having employees feel less hierarchical means a freer exchange of ideas, better teamwork and more work satisfaction.
So instead of wringing your hands about having to put millennials in charge one day (after all many of them are in their mid-thirties), start now. They’re eager to lead and giving your good employees, regardless of age, the chance to test out their own style while working with your more experienced leaders is a win-win.