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Millennial workers see the boss as a friend



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Millennial workers don’t want a hierarchical relationship with their boss – they want someone who leads them, but as a “friend”.

However, less than a third of the 1,293 employees aged between 18 and 30, said the role their managers currently plays fits their image of an ideal manager.

These findings from The Millennial Compass, a survey conducted by MSLGROUP, are an intriguing insight into what makes the younger generation tick, and what you as a boss or manager can do to make them feel appreciated and valued.

Millennial employees in the USA, the UK and Brazil said they view their boss as a “friend” above anything else, while this answer came in third for employees in India. In France, Millennials see their boss as a peer.

China was the only country where employees said they wanted a director or allocator of work, as opposed to a friend, peer, coach or mentor.

“I see in the market there are many bosses and few leaders. We must have leaders because they make the team come together and motivate them to reach the goal,” said survey participant Bruno, from Brazil, in the study report.

“It is important for companies to invest in leaders and empower them to manage people. That makes the difference between staying with and leaving a company.”

Here is some more insight into what your employees might be thinking about you as a boss, and the implications for your organisation, as identified by the survey:

When asked about the role their manager currently plays, most survey respondents chose, “friend”

Managers must learn to relate to multigenerational team members. This doesn’t mean yielding to whatever employees want; it means understanding their views of the work world and finding common ground that benefits everyone. This may require special training.

Millennials do not want a hierarchical relationship with their boss

A command and control management style isn’t necessary if expectations are clear, feedback is frequent and rewards are consistent. To optimise Millennials’ contributions, older managers may have to temper their top-down mentality.

Younger managers may have to assume more of a coach or mentor role to establish authority and balance the “friend” dynamic.

Less than a third of Millennials feel the role their manager currently plays fits their image of an ideal manager

Managers should strive to understand what motivates Millennial team members – not to accommodate them, but to strengthen relationships and drive better results.

Since every employee-boss relationship is different, this should be done in one-on-one conversations and performance reviews.

Millennials want managers and senior colleagues to be experts willing to share their knowledge with younger employees

Managers should share their knowledge and bring younger colleagues along, regardless of generational issues. Companies that want to create a Millennial-friendly culture should build internal knowledge sharing programmes and platforms and include participation on  managers’ performance reviews.

Image: Shutterstock 

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