Find out what qualities make a manager successful, regardless of age — and how to sell a younger manager to your staff.
Traditionally, management roles have been filled at many organizations by older workers with years, sometimes even decades, of experience.
However, as the proportion of Gen X (generally born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s, according to The Telegraph’s generational guide) and Gen Y (born between about 1980 and 2000) workers gradually increases, seeing managers appointed from one — or both — of those generations may become a more frequent scenario.
Gen X employees, according to Time magazine, have been moving into leadership roles for roughly two decades — a succession that will end in 2019, when they are, en masse, in charge.
Millennials aren’t far behind. According to recent research from the University of North Carolina, Gen Y workers will be 46 percent — nearly half — of the U.S. labor force by 2020, prompting Millennial employees to be increasingly relied upon to fill organizations’ leadership gaps.
Just over a year ago, Psychology Today predicted that roughly 75 percent of the world’s employees will be Millennials by the end of this year.
While it might seem like a monumental shift to start naming recent college grads as managers, in some cases, that’s right in line with Gen Y employees’ expectations.
More than 40 percent of Millennials, on a global level, planned to be in a senior management position or running their own company within a few years of their graduation, according to the Millennial Compass Report, which surveyed 1,293 employees in India, China, the U.K., France, Brazil and the U.S.
Is it possible Gen Y employees could contribute to your organization’s leadership needs before they rack up decades in the workforce?
Potentially, if your management plan and company culture would benefit from some of the advantages Gen Y workers can offer — including:
• Using technology as an efficiency tool: Millennial employees, from childhood on, in many cases, began using mobile devices, computers and other tech items to perform tasks quickly, sometimes moving seamlessly between several devices a day, according to the International Association of Business Communications. Savvy tech skills, the Economist says, coupled with a desire for responsibility, are two of the major advantages Gen Y employees offer — potentially making them approachable and in-touch managers.
• They’re willing to work after-hours to get the job done: Because of their comfort with technology, instead of a 9 to 5 mindset, many Millennial employees are used to being plugged in at all times, which allows them to work from any location and be responsive whenever they need to. In Canada, for example, by 2028, when the tail end of the country’s baby-boom generation reaches retirement, its 12 million-plus Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the workforce — and The Globe and Mail predicts Gen Y employees will further an acceptance of outside-of-the-office work, performed via remote devices.
• They favor a team attitude over an “I’m your boss” mentality: Because of Gen X employees, today’s workplace, according to Time magazine, involves a diminished emphasis on seniority, which Gen Y workers also tend to also shun. A sense of teamwork could become increasingly important in coming years when, in some countries, older workers will be retiring later, and bosses will need to find ways to manage workers who span a larger age range, according to the Economist.
• They embrace strategic change: Millennial employees appreciate innovation and can make decisions quickly and independently, according to Business Insider; but they’ll base those decisions on helpful data analysis, and not just a gut feeling — providing potentially strong, timely results.
If your organization is considering appointing a Gen Y employee to a management or other position in the near future, you may want to consider providing internal training to help them learn to effectively make decisions and provide guidance. Find out a few additional tips on preparing Millennial employees for a leadership role in Entrepreneur’s “6 Keys to Developing Millennials Into Managers.”