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Is Your Boss a Millennial?

With more Millennials rising to managerial positions, here’s how to turn potential inter-office conflicts into opportunities for generational growth

With more generations than ever in the workplace at once, it’s no wonder that there are some never-before-seen challenges. You have Millennials for whom smartphone use and instantaneous emailing and texting are a given, but also Baby Boomers who still value well-thought-out emails and, yes, even actual phone calls.

Is Your Boss a Millennial

You can imagine, then, just how difficult inter-office communication can be when one person expects a phone call and the other is left wondering why you didn’t respond to a text the minute it was sent. And all bets are off if your text features an emoji!

It’s normal and almost expected for new, young hires to rail against their older boss’s “old-fashioned” ways, but this is all about to change, since one-fourth of Millennial workers, the largest generation in the US workforce, are now in managerial roles.

“Millennials are the generation assuming management roles the fastest,” says Jason Dorsey, a Millennials expert, in a recent New York Post article. Dorsey adds that this “changing of the guard” is causing a fundamental shift in corporate leadership and decision-making.

And while it will be interesting to see how Millennials will act as mentors and managers to the younger Generation Z / iGen generation, the more immediate conflicts are arising from Millennials managing workers older than they are. According to a survey by Future Workplace and the networking site Beyond, 83 percent of respondents have seen Millennials managing workers older than they are.

How are Baby Boomers and Gen Xers responding to people young enough to be their children or younger siblings stepping into management roles? Forty-five percent of Boomers and Gen Xers who responded to the study thought that Millennials’ lack of experience could have a negative impact on a company’s culture. Doesn’t sound like they’re too happy about this change in leadership!

Meanwhile, Millennials are feeling pretty good about their promotions, with 44 percent of Millennial respondents viewing themselves as the most capable generation to lead in the workplace. Perhaps not surprisingly, only 14 percent of all survey respondents agreed with that sentiment.

“It’s really important for older workers to see this not as a threat, but as an opportunity,” Dorsey adds. “Millennials need older workers to be successful.” Dorsey stresses that it’s also important that these older employees not view their younger supervisors as their sons and daughters who may have moved home recently. They are qualified workers who got their positions for a reason.

Dorsey offers these three tips to help ease some generational differences that may arise in the office:

  • Become social media savvy: Millennials want you to understand how social media works, since it’s so closely tied to their lifestyle, both in and outside of the workplace. Dorsey suggests creating a basic LinkedIn profile and building a network on it to start. “It costs no money and shows that you know how to use social media and that you’re up on the times,” he says.
  • Keep the feedback coming: While older workers are more accustomed to an annual review, Millennials thrive on constant feedback, says Dorsey. They’re also more goal-oriented, while older employees are into the process. “That’s important, because the process exists for a reason and that’s to reduce errors,” says Dorsey. If your Millennial manager wants to start changing things up right away, explain the reasoning behind the old way so that they know that things are such a way for a reason.
  • Dress accordingly: Millennials tend to dress more casually at work. This doesn’t mean you have to completely change the way you dress and copy their outfit exactly, but if you’re the only person still wearing a suit to the office, it may be time to rethink your wardrobe.

For more helpful tips and insights, read the entire New York Post article here!

Do you work for a Millennial boss? Are you a Millennial boss yourself? Share your experiences, frustrations and tips at @WhatTheGen and @JasonDorsey!

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