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5 tips to better understand millennial managers

Sarah K. White | Sept. 7, 2016
If you aren't already managed by a millennial, chances are you soon will be as these young workers quickly take on leadership roles in corporate America.

Ultimately, millennials aren't concerned with how they will fit into a company. Rather they're thinking "I wonder where you will fit into my life story," says Tulgan. He says to consider your millennial managers -- and other millennial employees -- as laser-focused on creating the life they want and ensuring their career doesn't encroach on that goal.

Work-life balance

Not only are millennials sensitive to flexible schedules and a maintaining a healthy personal life outside of work; as the modern workplace becomes less rigid, millennial managers are also well aware of how easy it is for personal lives to bleed into the workplace.

"Social media and the general news cycle is a 24/7 occurrence, meaning that it's much easier for personal lives to creep into the workplace more often. This poses a challenge of making sure employees are staying on track, but also having the flexibility to use this constant feed of information to stay connected," says Wayland.

Tulgan says, you may even find that millennial workers will turn down managerial or supervisory roles if offered. According to what Tulgan has seen in his research for his books, millennials often look to their own managers or slightly more senior peers, and quickly take note that many of them are often "given loads of additional responsibility with very little additional support." Since they are so focused on work-life balance, they may be wary to commit to a role that doesn't seem flexible enough.

They aren't necessarily lax

Just because your millennial manager might be completely open to you leaving work early for regular appointments, fitness classes or to pick your kids up from school, don't take flexibility as a sign of weakness.

Millennials graduated into a poor economic climate, which means they've had to find success through achieving "solid results, demonstrating agility and working hard every day," says Wayland. "They don't settle for less than the best in their own performance, so they won't settle for less than the best from you either," says Wayland.

And if you find millennial managers are, in fact, too lax, it might boil down to an issue with being seen as an authority figure by their peers-turned-subordinates. In talking to millennial managers, Tulgan says he has seen a trend where younger managers find it difficult to gain respect after they get promoted.

These workers sometimes find it difficult to gain credibility or establish their authority. Overnight they go from a coworker to a boss, and not everyone in the department might be on board. As a result, without the right guidance and mentorship in place, you might find that these managers do become more laid-back, even if only as a way to avoid conflict with employees who may be unhappy with the shift in management. Or, they might become too reliant on other employees to help them manage, which won't portray a sense of authority in the department.


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