Ultimate Software's Blog

Is Your Manager a Millennial? Your Next One Might Be.

“Change.” As the saying goes, it truly is the only constant in our personal lives as well as our work. As time has gone by, we’ve all witnessed the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which work has been reshaped. And globalization, technology, and other cultural evolutions are rarely siloed to our homes and communities. These changes almost always spill over into our workplaces—and one of the most recent transformative forces permeating our cubicles and open offices everywhere has been the introduction of millennials as managers.

But you already knew that, right?

Chances are you’ve already been a witness to this hierarchical evolution. In a recent study, 83% of respondents reported having millennial managers present within their workplace. If you don’t currently know of any millennials in management at your organization, it would seem that it’s only a matter of time until you do.

As business leaders have adapted to the unique needs and motivators of this particular generation, they have discovered that a wealth of valuable skills lies behind the stereotypes that are often attributed to millennials. Not only is the millennial workforce being embraced, new recruiting strategies are being implemented to attract them into leadership positions. So, what might life with a millennial for a manager actually feel like?

Look out for two key differences.

While broad-sweeping generalizations can never be 100% accurate, there are a few traits that millennials seem to carry into their management roles.

1. They’re always a message away.

Most digital natives were raised in a world of constant connectivity. Mobile telephones removed many of the previous barriers to communication that existed with landlines. And the advent of social media introduced new channels and mediums for everyone to stay connected—no matter the geographical location.

Today, these digital natives turned millennial managers are just as connected as ever before, meaning reaching them shouldn’t be much of a problem. Whether it’s email, text, or social media, a millennial manager could shape out to be a more accessible and communicative manager.

But there is another side to this story. Growing up during this period of technological revolution has also created a preference for digital communication in some millennials. So, if you prefer more face-to-face interactions than emails, you may need to have a conversation with your manager to find a mix of the two styles that will work for both of you.

2. They’re very experimental.

You probably won’t hear a millennial manager turn down a proposal with the explanation, “This is the way it’s always been,” anytime soon. In specific regard to these professionals coming from the gig economy, they have been shown to excel in their abilities to be emotionally agile, hardworking, and more likely to break the rules—a fantastic mix for creating an environment that nurtures innovation.

As a result, employees of millennial managers will likely feel encouraged to try new things. And while novel experiments at work can be risky, millennial managers who’ve recognized failure as a prerequisite for newfound success won’t be as touchy when things don’t work.

What do you think?

You’ve heard what I have to say about millennials in management, but what has your experience been like? Do you have a millennial manager now, or at least know of one? What are they like? Leave a comment below to join in on the conversation?