Congratulations! You have just become a millennial manager. Now, you will develop people, function as a catalyst for your organization and be responsible for the administrative components of managing both the business and the team. Managers are the glue that holds organizations together, and they serve, arguably, the most important role in any organization. A manager’s impact reaches far beyond themselves -- you will now impact the team and have a large influence on business results. No pressure!
But how do you excel in this role while managing people twice your age? How do you overcome the eye-rolls, the under-the-breath comments and the “haters”? How do you earn the respect of your team while your experience pales in comparison to theirs?
Let’s check out eight considerations for millennials to succeed in the role of manager:
• Be clear.
Set clear expectations for your team and for yourself. Role clarity provides focus and gives direction for the team. Think about both explicit and implicit expectations for your team. Describe what high performance looks like. Reinforce these expectations in meaningful conversations with your team.
• Build connections.
Get to know your team. Think about the powerful impact you now have on their lives, both inside and outside of the workplace. You are now a part of nightly dinner table conversations. What do you want those conversations to look like? Genuinely care about your team. Be their biggest advocate and greatest support system.
• Know your stuff.
Don’t assume that your previous experience with the company compares with the amount of experience on your team. Chances are, it won’t. Do your homework. Get to know the current responsibilities of each of your team members. Be sure that you’ve done the research before you communicate information to the team.
• Get comfortable with uncomfortable conversations.
Often, a common struggle for millennial managers arises from a lack of confidence in giving constructive feedback to tenured employees. Be respectful and as transparent as possible when giving feedback. Give specific observations of behaviors. Show that you support their development by providing the necessary skills training and feedback needed to succeed. As a manager, think of your role as “holding people accountable to their own best intentions.” If you set clear expectations, these conversations become more comfortable.
• Adapt your style.
Millennials want regular, meaningful conversations about their development and performance, but not all generations have the same needs. Great managers adapt their style to the desired communication of their individual team members. Some want empowerment, others want you to tell them what you want them to do. Remember the Platinum Rule, “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” And finally, exude professionalism in your communication style. Don’t show your age in the way you communicate.
• Ask for feedback.
To fulfill the millennial need for constant feedback, you may now need to solicit feedback in the role of manager. Being a manager can sometimes be a lonely job, depending on your proximity to your managerial peers. Don’t shy away from asking your team for feedback on how you are doing. Ninety percent of management is self-management. As a manager, you have a big impact on your personal development. Be humble, be vulnerable and be open with your team.
• Get a mentor.
Having a mentor is more important than ever in the role of manager. Mentors provide an outside perspective, help you view problems and decisions through a different lens and can advocate for your professional advancement. Mentors give millennial managers the ongoing development needed for personal growth.
• Realize your value.
Despite your team’s experience outweighing that of your own, you were selected as a manager for a very specific reason. Especially as a millennial manager, you bring a fresh perspective to the team. You bring new ways of thinking and doing based on recent research of people and processes. Remember your value, and don’t try to be something you are not. Be more of who you are. Use your talents!
Great managers are great managers. Great leaders are great leaders. High-performing managers are strengths-based, engagement-focused and performance-oriented. As a millennial manager, you must leverage the individual talents of your team and think about how to engage their individual workplace needs. How do they define a “great manager”? What does “engagement” mean to them? These factors are essential, not just for millennial managers, but for managers of all generations. Invest in your talents and individualize your management approach to meet the specific needs of your team.
Download Gallup's exciting and groundbreaking report on how millennials want to work and live here.