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The Paradox of the Millennial Manager

As the business world evolves, so does the inner workings of most companies. More and more we are seeing millennials (aged 18-32) taking over management positions.  Is this just because they’re less expensive? Or do they genuinely possess the qualities to fill the role?

Who is the Business Millennial?

Fresh out of college, most of these spriteful youths are bright-eyed and bushy tailed ready to take the business world by storm.

shutterstock_132571163But their eagerness is often met with more struggles than successes.

The Bad: The Gen Ys are often depicted as entitled by other generations and usually come into situations with high expectations. Most look for constant approval, especially from their direct managers. They struggle to act independently and often expect praise for their achievements. Most of all, they expect rapid ascension and love the term “unlimited growth.”

The Good: This generation is much more tech savvy than their predecessors. They adapt to change quickly and are good at thinking on their feet. They are flexible and most do not have any family commitment to hinder their work. They are hard workers and can take direction well.

How do they Manage?

A lot of companies will promote millennials into a management position based on their accomplishments and capabilities at an individual level; however, there are some good and bad traits that can affect how this generation manages.

The Bad: Gen Y managers were often brought up receiving constant praise and awards. This translates into a manager that spends a lot of time praising work, even if it is not always warranted. This can lead to lower expectations for employees and a lack of accountability. These managers also want to appease their subordinates and are less likely to discipline appropriately.

The Good: Collaboration is a focal point for millennial managers. They incorporate a “team” mentality and often set up office situations that promote group environments. Acting as a coach they can motivate their employees through appropriate incentives as well as general competition.  They do not shy away from challenges and welcome change.

shutterstock_136063124Effects of Millenial Managers

Having a manager who is in their 20’s and 30’s is likely to have an impact on a company. Is that impact good, though?

The Bad: Because these managers are relatively young they are likely to lack the experience necessary to make accurate decisions. This, of course, is not always the case, but most millennial managers have never managed others in a business setting prior to being promoted. There is also the possibility of the manager having to lead someone with more experience whom is much older. This is likely to cause possible resentment.

The Good: This progressive move to promote a millennial manager can have a positive effect on the culture of a company. This move can also encourage change and show other employees that a company is willing to evolve. The positive characteristics of a millennial manager can pay dividends to the morale and climate of a company.

Roughly 87% of Gen Y managers were promoted over the past five years compared to 38% for Gen X and 19% for Baby Boomers. This means millenials are going to continue to take over the manager roles moving forward. As with every manager, there are going to be positives and negatives. The real question is how to effectively perpetuate the good, while minimizing the bad.

About the author

Derek Miller