March 22, 2017 1:44 PM

In 2015, millennials took over as the largest generational group in the United States workforce. By 2020, millennials, generally described as those ranging in age from 18 to 35 years old, will make up over half of the total workforce. Nearly every business article written about millennials has been about how to manage them. But now, there is a need to focus attention on how to effectively transition millennials into management roles.

Group of Millennials at a conference table
The growing millennial population in the workforce presents a tremendous opportunity for organizations, however, millennial managers are facing a challenge other generations have rarely dealt with: managing people older than they are. Organizational leaders need to begin preparing for this issue now in order to place Millennial managers in a position to succeed. Addressing this challenge is no longer merely an option. Successfully transitioning Millennials into management roles is a necessity for organizations, if they are to thrive. 

Confronting Negative Stereotypes

Millennials have been called narcissistic, lazy, entitled, oversensitive, and tech-obsessed. While millennials have voiced their readiness to move up the corporate ladder, even those who have earned the right to advance are still dealing with these negative stereotypes. The perception can be that millennials, like all young leaders, don’t have enough experience to be successful. Organizational leaders need to concentrate on developing skills like relationship building and self-awareness to help millennials quickly overcome the learning curve.One of the key areas to focus on is finding ways to help younger managers really understand the people in older generations. Based on unique upbringing and life experiences, people in each generation have different values, perspectives, and expectations for the workplace. If millennials understand these differences and what each group brings to the table, they can work more effectively with each generation. In addition, if business leaders and mentors help millennials address the negative stereotypes they will face as younger managers, millennials can work to avoid and overcome this negative perception from older team members.

Connecting with the Mission is Critical

One of the major keys to organizational success is connecting employees with the mission of the organization. It is imperative for leaders to help younger managers understand what exactly is expected of them in their new roles. This includes helping new managers set expectations for their teams, as well as providing a clear understanding of what the organization is trying to accomplish. Educating millennials on the different departments and their respective goals will help them see how their role fits into the bigger picture. When millennial managers connect their own tasks and responsibilities to the overall mission and vision of the organization, they are more engaged and have a stronger sense of shared purpose.

Contributing Feedback Enhances Performance

Finally, organizations must focus on continuous improvement. Millennials appreciate and respond well to feedback. Scheduling regular check-ins with newer managers and providing mentors to guide them can greatly reduce stress and improve productivity for younger managers. Not only is feedback something millennials expect and want, it has been proven to improve performance.

Conquering Management Requires Support and Recognition.

The only constant in business is change, but generational tension in the workplace is not going anywhere. Millennials are going to bring positive and exciting changes to management roles, but their efforts will be derailed without the support of their organizations. Organizational leaders need to be deliberate about developing millennials in new management roles, while simultaneously improving the overall inter-generational culture. Effectively training new managers will reduce the gap of time between expected and actual results. Leaders who prepare and plan for this upcoming shift will find their businesses at a tremendous advantage in terms of recruitment, retention, and success with younger managers. Their organizations, and the millennials who represent an ever-growing part of it, will thrive as a result.

In addition to providing ongoing support of younger generation managers, those in leadership positions can nurture millennials for roles of authority by recognizing their skills and contributions to the professional landscape. Accolades and awards, both internally and from external organizations, can build a foundation of confidence that empowers younger employees own the responsibilities of their managerial role and use their authority to drive positive changes within their companies. The Millennial Financial Services Professional Award from The American College of Financial Services was introduced in 2016 to recognize outstanding young financial professionals who have made a significant impact in their field, and it's honors such as these that can help create a culture of empowerment, confidence and capability among millennial managers.

Do you know an advisor under 35 with at least five years of experience in the financial services profession? Nominations for the Millennial Financial Services Professional Award will be open starting April 2017. Ideal candidates will have designation from The College, or their CFP® certification. Submit your nomination for an opportunity to recognize a worthy and deserving advisor in your network.

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