Company cultures aren’t entirely driven by it’s leader. You have to look deeper into how the leader has been trained. These paradigms have often been set for a long time and were often heavily influenced by parents, previous managers and probably the most influential, age.
If you’re company puts a significant value on whether you’re on time, working your hours and sitting in your seat—not talking, checking Facebook, making coffee—you name it, there’s a good chance your company is managed based on the industrial revolution management style. In short, this style is based on managing factory workers. Each worker has a specific role. If you weren’t in your seat, you weren’t producing. Low producers get fired. High producers get rewarded. It’s easy to see how working long hours is an indicator of a hard worker. Hardly.
While this is just one style of management, it happens to be the one in which I believe that most companies operate from. These paradigms aren’t inherently good or bad. In fact, if it’s all the boss or owner knows, then at the foundation it’s true and accordingly, good. The problem is, with every new generation that enters the workforce, corporate cultures are faced with new challenges—or what I would like to offer as opportunities. What worked in and with a previous generation, will not work today.
In the book, The Five Love Languages (Amazon), author Gary Chapman, introduces the theory that people receive and give love differently: acts of service, quality time, receiving gifts, words of affirmation and physical touch. He claims that if we strive to understand how people around us receive love, we will be far more effective in making people feel loved. Using management as our framework, it’s easy to see how the industrial manager would conflict with the gen-y manager. More often than not, each feels misunderstood and oftentimes rejected. It’s not that one is right and other is wrong. It’s that they just don’t work well together. They value different things.
There are scores of articles and books written on both of these management styles. I’ve listed a handful for your review below. If you’re wanting to get a head start, here are five ways that you can understand and maximize your gen-y workforce:
- Managing Gen-Y based on time and butts in the seat will not get you results. Set goals and base their success on results. This generation will work hard when asked.
- Remember that most jobs today don’t create widgets, they create mind work. This kind of work doesn’t have a beginning or end—it always is, so give them the flexibility to work when and where they are most creative. Your bottom line will thank you. Just ask Google.
- Life/Work integration is a significant issue to the Gen-Y workforce. They are more likely to want to work with you, not for you. Why? Freedom. If you can create a culture that allows life to happen, yet still have high expectations, your culture will always win. They’d rather get fired for not performing than being late.
- Social media and blogs are a part of life/work, so please, stop monitoring its consumption. Sure, this would mean that people may spend too much time here, but if you’re doing #1, you won’t have a problem.
- Perhaps the most important of the five is that this generation wants to be heard. They do not expect you to act on all or any of their ideas. They just want to know that you understand their perspective and opinions.
While this list represents five ways you can start today, there are many more. If you’re a twenty or thirtysomething reading this post, I invite you to leave a contribution. Tell us your opinion about this generational management dance. If we, the generation, want to be understood, being heard is the first step.
If you’re like me, you might be reading this saying, “nice theory, but how do you know this? Show me the proof!” Good point. Here are a handful of articles to get you started. There are scores more.
Management is Still Fighting the Industrial Revolution
Excerpt: Management was originally invented to solve two problems: the first—getting semiskilled employees to perform repetitive activities competently, diligently, and efficiently; the second—coordinating those efforts in ways that enabled complex goods and services to be produced in large quantities. In a nutshell, the problems were efficiency and scale, and the solution was bureaucracy, with its hierarchical structure, cascading goals, precise role definitions, and elaborate rules and procedures.
Moon Shots for Management (Harvard Business Review)
What Millennials Want (Wired Magazine)
The Millennial’s Are Coming – 60 Minutes
Great Quote: Faced with new employees who want to roll into work with their iPods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday, companies are realizing that the era of the buttoned down exec happy to have a job is as dead as the three-Martini lunch. … “The boomers do need to hear the message, that they’re gonna have to start focusing more on coaching rather than bossing. If this generation in particular, you just tell them, ‘You got to do this. You got to do this. You got to do this.’ They truly will walk. And every major law firm, every major company knows, this is the future,” Crane explains.
Millennials in the workplace do not agree with the work ethic standards of past generations
Interesting: Millennials in the workplace actually expanded on the Gen X foundation of casual Fridays to not only make everyday casual but to further show that how they dress is an extension of their individualism. While Gen X or boomers see this as sloppy, the millennial generation views their dress as freedom of expression in color and style and furthermore, as an extension of how they speak.