I was chatting with a friend of mine last week about some frustrations he was having with his manager. When I asked him how he felt he said, ”I feel like a Gen Y with a 50-year-old boss who just doesn’t get it.”
Nothing is more frustrating than being scrutinized for something that is just part of who you are. Thousands of Gen Y’s feel this frustration daily, clashing with managers for simply behaving in ways that come naturally. This miscommunication stems from the fundamental differences between millennials and their bosses. An article on Managing Millennials published today by Stephen Miles, Brian McMahon, and Nathan Bennet deftly points out three major differences:
- “Work isn’t as important to millennials as it was to previous generations at the same point in their careers.” A millennial’s need for both work/life balance and career growth doesn’t mesh with manager’s beliefs that putting in extra hours is the best way to move your career forward.
- Socially confident millennials are more “assertive than previous generations, and they thrive on immediate feedback. They excel in environments that are low in ambiguity, with tasks that are well specified.” Yet many managers struggle to give their teams the feedback they need to improve and only make coaching a priority after other deliverables are complete.
- They connect socially, online. Millennials, “are comfortable with the sense of community fostered by relationships established and maintained over the Internet.”
With these fundamental differences driving a wedge between managers and their Gen Y talent, it’s no wonder both sides often end up feeling defeated and uneasy. But this feeling of frustration is not something that managers can afford to ignore. “U.S. Census Bureau data suggests in less than a decade, millennials will comprise about half of the working-age population in the U.S. This demographic change means evidence of small generational differences and even anecdotal observations made in today’s workplace may augur the workplace of the future. Talent managers must remain alert to these shifts so their organizations won’t be left behind”.
This warning became true in my friend’s case. He ended up leaving his full-time role for a less stable contract job. And to be honest, I wasn’t surprised. As McMahon, Miles, and Bennett explain, “employers who are slow to address millennials’ oft-obsevered desires for feedback, work variety, and work-life balance will struggle to retain their best young workers”.
No manager wants to be seen as out of touch or unapproachable. Whether you’re a millennial employee or a boomer boss, we both had our parents yell at us to turn the music down, and force us to change before leaving the house. More importantly, we have also known how great it is to finally find a mentor that gets it. To learn how to understand millennials, manage them effectively, and retain young talent on their own terms check out McMahon, Miles and Bennett’s tips in Managing the Millenials.