How to manage the next generation of leaders

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The new generation of leaders currently leaving the doors of university have a completely different way of working than their older counterparts. Therefore, as an employer, it is vital that you understand how to manage these millennials (those born between the early 1980s and 2000s).

While the Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – perceive working longer hours as evidence of loyalty and hard work, Generation X – those born between 1960s and 1980s – and the millennials work towards gaining a good work/life balance. This is largely because this generation witnessed their parents working extremely hard without having much of a life outside of office.

As a result, the next generation of leaders –Generation X and millennials – are looking for more holiday entitlement, continuous training and a variety of telecommunication options. They expect to use technology in order to work efficiently and productively, without staying late in the office every night to finish their work.

Changing values in the workplace

Boomers traditionally believe they have to “pay their dues” to a company in order to succeed professionally and disliking their job is simply “part of life”. However, the newer generations typically won’t accept this viewpoint and are looking to be rewarded based on achievement, while partaking in intellectually stimulating work on a daily basis.

Many employers have and continue to question the loyalty they will receive from this new workforce. While it is clear this new generation of workers will not remain in a job they dislike – as the boomers did – this doesn’t mean they are not serious about their career or loyal to their employers, they are simply different. However, what this does mean is that if employers want to retain their best leaders from this generation, they need to learn how they can offer them an environment geared up to meet their values and desires.

A number of the largest companies in the world have changed the way they work in order to meet the demands of this new generation of leaders. Two examples of this are:

  1. A major chemical company, based in the USA, abolished the “corporate ladder” approach to management in the organisation. As a result, there are now no bosses and no “top and bottom” in the chain of employees. Rather, authority is passed through team leaders to ensure that there is a sense of equality throughout the entire business.
  2. A Silicon Valley based software company has eliminated set office hours. Now, staff come into work when they choose and stay until the job is done. The firm also provides staff members with paid time off every month to take part in voluntary work while also providing each employee with a six week holiday every four years.

Both companies are profitable, productive and have an extremely low staff turnover with these changes enhancing their success.

So, what does this tell us about how the new generation of leaders like to be managed?

The next step for employers

This new generation of leaders value open communication and above all else, teamwork. They will always encourage collaboration and will refuse to be followed simply because they are “the boss”. Instead, this group of professionals want to understand their colleague’s viewpoints and situations from the perspectives of others.

In reality, the graduates leaving university today will spend more time building new relationships with their teams than their older counterparts did and this is largely because they value family time and understand the importance of having a personal life. As a result, employers will see corporate cultures shift and become less rigid, bringing fun and flexibility into the workplace.

Moreover, this new generation of leaders value and desire action and will therefore work more efficiently and productively in order to earn holiday. Likewise, they will expect their team to work just as hard, while also knowing when it’s time to leave the office for the day. The way in which the millennials will gain this momentum is through their unprecedented use of technology – this generation grew up with technology advancements surrounding their very beings and this is why they are not afraid of using it.

Guarantee staff retention

To ensure your new generation of leaders will remain within your organisation, it is important to consider applying the following to your business:

  • Offer ongoing training throughout their career, in skills such as leadership, communication skills and time management
  • Increase non-monetary benefits including flexible working hours for example
  • Give your leaders the freedom they crave
  • Earn their loyalty and respect by communicating on a regular basis
  • Treat men and women as equals
  • Ensure the office is as “green” as possible – studies have shown this generation will choose an eco-friendly organisation over one that is not

There is no doubt that the new generation of leaders has different priorities than their predecessors and therefore it is important that as an employer, you create a working environment that is tailored to their needs, values and preference.