Is It Time to Rewrite the Rules? Millennials as Managers

July 9, 2013

Generation Y

“The millennials are coming, the millennials are coming!” cried the 60 Minutes report in 2008.  Now, watch out because “The millennial managers are coming!”

More and more milennnials are entering the workforce, and the older millennials, like myself, are taking on management positions and having a bigger voice in how work is working. A lot has been written and shouted from the rooftops about the audacity, dependency, and entitlement of millennials. However, the truth is that the best, forward-thinking companies are taking a look at their talent and leadership pipeline…the millennials. And these companies are excited about the energy, creativity, and openness that millennials are bringing to their workplace.

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Millennials will be leading our organizations and will outnumber the baby roomer force by 2015. That’s soon. Now we can all keep complaining about each other, or we can determine how to bet work with one another and put those snide remarks about the lazy, clueless kids and the old techno-phobes behind us. At JB Training Solutions, our mantra is that no generation is better or worse – they’re just different. Each generation was shaped by society and the culture in which they were raised, and it’s up to each of us to mind those differences and work together successfully.

My generation, Generation Y, has a unique set of values, passions, and motivators, and we’re bringing them to the workplace – why wouldn’t we?

A quote by a 60-something employee always rings true for me, “We wanted what they want.  We just felt we couldn’t ask. Herein lies the truth: what young workers want isn’t so different from what everyone else wants.  However, young workers are asking for it.” Millennials aren’t afraid to ask, and we’re shaking things up a bit.

With Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, there are lively debates springing up abut the rules of operation for business. Some women say it’s not working for them; some moms and dads say it’s difficult to manage it all, and millennials are putting their stake in the ground too.

In our new book, Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management, we offer a look at each of the generations, but we focus on Generation Y and how this generation will lead. We have talked to hundreds and thousands of millennials across the country, and there are a few things that we heard time and time again that just aren’t working. A few ideas and icons that don’t work at work for millennials:

  • Corporate ladder
  • Bureaucracy
  • Overly formal communication
  • Inflexibility
  • Lack of diversity
  • Boring work

Millennials aren’t afraid to say these elements of business aren’t working, and we’re standing up for the new rules of management and fostering a positive work culture. As our generation takes on management roles, we are pushing for new ideas and values. Millennials are:

  • Tearing down the ladder. For millennials, it’s not all about paying your dues to work your way up the ladder.  It’s not about “up or out.” Millennials want to contribute to meaningful work, and it’s more about the career lattice or career scaffold where you can take steps up, down, out, or across to create a meaningful career.
  • Breaking down the walls. Millennials are breaking down the walls literally and figuratively.  More and more offices are going towards open floor plans as the physical environment reflects a culture of openness and transparency. Furthermore, millennials grew up in a multicultural world, and they expect their workplaces to be reflective and open to diverse viewpoints and people.
  • Communicating on the fly. Gone are the long memos and e-mails. Millennials are texting, gchatting, and connecting 24/7. Communication is brief and on demand.
  • Working when and where we want. The 9am-5pm work day is dying, and millennials are pushing for this flexibility. As long as the work gets done, millennials are less concerned about the when and where.
  • Playing at work. Work isn’t just work to us.  Millennials want to be engaged by their work, and they want to have some fun. Our generation is all about collaboration, creativity, and connection. Play and work can co-exist.

For millennials, it’s more about collaboration than command and control. It’s more about the network and connecting than the authority and executing. Now these ideas may fly in the face of some of the traditional rules of management.  In our workplaces right now, there is a tension between these old rules and the new, and millennial managers have a big role in bridging the gap. We can respect what works and push for new ways of working, managing, and leading that produce stronger results and a more engaged workforce.

Check out and Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management to continue the conversation.  Follow us: @JBTSMillennials @JBTSolutions




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About The Author

COURTNEY TEMPLIN is the Chief Operating Officer at JB Training Solutions, and a Millennial herself. She sits on the board of the Chicago Society for Human Resource Management, where she leads the Emerging Leaders Initiative. - See more at:

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    […] Like this post? You might also like this post by coauthor Courtney Templin. […]

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