Articles

Millennials in Leadership Positions

by Barbara Mitchell, Managing Partner, Mitchell Group

Does that title scare you or does it challenge you to look at how you are grooming young mangers to become the future leaders of your organization?

Learn more about human resource management degreesMillennials, generally defined as the generation of young people born between 1980 and 2000, are now the largest demographic at work today. By 2020 it is estimated that they will make up more than half of the American workforce. They are already moving into leadership roles.  Many organizations are finding that developing new leaders in this generation has to be done in a different manner than with previous groups, using online and digital resources.

We know that no new manager has all the skills necessary to be good at what they do. Many managerial skills are learned on the job and through trial and error. Millennials tend to be supremely confident in their abilities to take on leadership roles, but we need to provide opportunities for them to gain the knowledge and experience needed to supplement their strengths, their enthusiasm and their can-do spirit.

The millennial generation’s leaders are facing a complex world that is dominated by technology and an ever-changing business environment.  According to an article in the January 2015 issue of Workforce magazine, by Michael Watkins and PJ Neal, titled “Millennial in Training,” the authors state that, “[Millennials’] experience as the first truly diverse and digital generation has prepared them well to lead the next generation.”

Many organizations are finding that developing new leaders in this generation has to be done in a different manner than with previous groups, using online and digital resources.

The authors give four key areas of focus for millennial leaders:

  • Developing a leadership mindset: moving from individual contributor to frontline manager can be a difficult change.  Millennial leaders need to make sure they understand how to build trust and credibility, leverage emotional intelligence and begin to think of themselves as a leader, not just a contributor.
  • Leading yourself: millennial leaders need to make sure they develop personal agility to survive in today’s environment. Focus on development areas, such as agility, time and stress managementand delegation skills.
  • Leading others: two key areas for millennial leaders are accelerating talent development and developing high-performing teams. Focus on how to give feedback, be a coach, manage a team and effectively deal with team conflict.
  • Leading the business: millennial leaders need to successfully and effectively drive execution. They need to know how to create alignment with their team and effectively make decisions in a manner that results in their team members and stakeholders feeling like they’ve been listened to.

How are you going to develop your next leaders so that you can tap into their strengths and help them and your organization be as successful as possible?  Taking classes online or in traditional classrooms, reading books, attending seminars—all these are ways to help millennials develop their leadership skills.  HR managers will need to develop their own skills and abilities to manage this very large generation of highly-energized and technologically-savvy employees.

Barbara MitchellBarbara Mitchell, Managing Partner of The Mitchell Group, is co-author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential HR Handbook.