Each generation has certain traits and values that make up its unique character. In part, this is due to changing times, as well as priorities that are important to everyone. There is no denying that among many managers, millennials have an unflattering reputation and are considered lazy and demanding. Is this true?

Or do they simply know their worth and want more? Maybe all it takes is a change in leadership style to discover their true talent. We will answer this question in this article as well as examine how to manage Generation Y in the workplace, as well as what kind of managers Millennials make.

Let’s start with a brief recap on Generation Y

Although everyone is different and we shouldn’t generalize each generation has a few unique features that distinguish them. When you recognize them, you’ll know which leadership style to adopt. The key traits of Generation Y are:

  • High general knowledge – Millennials are a generation that always tries to solve a problem or perform a task on their own first, and only later seek help from a specialist. This is due to their broad experience and general curiosity about the world.
  • Teamwork – the days of the rat race in the workplace are a thing of the past. For Generation Y, cooperation is important.
  • Familiarity with technology – while earlier generations tried to avoid it, we now know that this is impossible. What’s more, technology offers opportunities that Generation Y is eager to take advantage of.
  • Sustainability – for Generation Y it’s essential to grow and expand their knowledge, but at the same time they value private time, which they are happy to devote to themselves and their families. They are the first generation to speak out that life outside of work also counts.
  • They need a higher purpose – Generation Y works more efficiently if they see deep meaning in the work. They need to feel that they have conditions to thrive and that every action impacts not only the company but also the surrounding environment.

Key factors that shape a millenial leadership style

For the baby boomer generation, money is the fundamental incentive, the most valued factor of stable employment. Millennials are not afraid of changes and want to do what makes them happy while feeling needed and understood. They want to believe that their participation in the organization is meaningful and that the work brings real benefits beyond earnings.

They are very familiar with technology and want to use it. Therefore, they highly value flexibility and the ability to work remotely, but at the same time, they welcome the opportunity to work in teams and participate in projects and environments. They also appreciate interaction with their superiors and expect a response to work done. This is a significant difference from the previous generation, which tended not to be fond of leaning in, and no response meant no objections and was the best possible news.

They prefer the humanistic approach to management style. They don’t need supervisors to keep to themselves and exercise power and unnecessary authority. Managing with an iron fist will not work in this case, and trying to change the attitude of the Y generation will not work either. This is a very conscious generation that is open to change. Therefore, if they don’t like something, they are not afraid to speak out about it.

One of the paradoxes that make managing Generation Y difficult is that they need flexibility and constraint simultaneously. They tend to have academic degrees but they could improve at decision-making. The main goal of their manager then is to find a golden ratio between assigning tasks and at the same time allowing for space to maneuver, so they feel free.

Generation Y is a growing group of employees, so you have to reconsider your strategy. Employers need to find ideas on how to attract and retain them in their ranks. To achieve this, you have to open up for change.

What leadership style will be best then? Today’s leaders should bet on a flexible approach and focus on the individual. Millennials greatly appreciate a focus on people. They want leadership style with a leader who socializes and appreciates or gives constructive criticism. The manager who will be there for them to share knowledge and experience. One who will bring in a good atmosphere throughout the work environment.

Sometimes it makes sense to move away from the traditional principles and values that were put in place years ago by previous management. Times are changing, so it’s time for a new approach. A better understanding of the needs and expectations of a particular generation will help you carve out a leadership style that works for them.

What leadership style distinguishes Millennial bosses?

Although millennials are just entering the job market, some of them decide to take the plunge right away and open their own business where they hire people. Courage, readiness for change, and aversion to hierarchy are qualities that are helpful in this case. What kind of leaders are representatives of Generation Y? Are Millennials good supervisors?

Millennials treat others as they would like to be treated themselves. By occupying a higher position, they do not consider themselves superior, nor do they require excessive use of hierarchy. They want to be close to people because they believe that in this way they can better motivate them, which in turn translates directly into better results for the company. They recognize the variety of role people play in the organization and therefore place their needs high on the agenda. They focus on cooperation and it is in this style that they manage people.

In their actions, they are flexible and ready for change, which, combined with courage and openness to possible failure, makes them capable of achieving a great deal. This is the first generation so open to change and aware that changes are inevitable. For Millenials, they do not mean a threat, but an opportunity. In the face of drastic economic transformations, when long-term planning does not work, this is a highly valued trait.

They appreciate social diversity and know that it also means that the work environment should adapt. However, they see it as more of an opportunity than a threat. They believe that every dissenting view or even dysfunction can contribute something important to the work of the team. It also gives them a huge competitive advantage, as employees value companies that are open to employees and their diversity and have an open work environment.

Leadership Style

How to manage a multigenerational team?

Each generation finds its best fit in a different leadership style, and although Millennials now make up the majority of the workforce, in some workplaces the teams are still diverse. They usually include not only Generation Y but also Z or X. Various factors concerning events and beliefs shaped each generation, creating and influencing the world views of the Millenials. Still, is it possible to find a leadership style that will suit everyone? This is precisely one of the greatest challenge modern managers face. What’s more, in the case of supervising a multigenerational team, you’ll need more practical knowledge, not just theory

The best solution is to follow and listen to your team. Then, you’ll determine the leadership style that can foster their professional development and ease team supervision. Remember that only managers who know their employees and establish a sound communication strategy based on trust will succeed.

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Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.