The workplace is modernising, and so are its methods, processes and tools. As younger generations join the workforce, business managers need to rethink how they do things.

Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials have had a rough start in the job market after the global financial crisis in 2008.  These “digital natives” expect different things from their workplaces than their predecessors, but often end up feeling disappointed — particularly by the lack of values in certain companies, their inflexibility in the face of change, and the way they treat their employees.

Since 2014, millennials have represented a majority of the workforce, and with more than half of them in managerial positions, it’s especially important that their voices are represented and that companies are striving to create millennial-friendly workplaces. Here’s how the new generation is redefining management.

No more CEOs in ivory towers

A study by Kantar Futures showed that 39% of millennials think that the role of CEO in its current form will be irrelevant in the next ten years. Imposing, inflexible managers are of little interest to younger generations. Instead, millennials are looking for human qualities like integrity, transparency, open-mindedness and the ability to recognise the strengths and weaknesses of each of their employees.

In a millennial management team, authority isn’t granted but earned by winning the trust of your employees. These “managers 2.0” also understand the importance of being people-centric: they value a diversity of talent and backgrounds in their employees as well their growth and development, and they’re always striving to improve company culture.

“If you want to attract millennial talent, ditch your old management models.”

Go beyond rigid corporate hierarchies and structures

Going forward, the business world will become more and more spread out and roles will be less defined. So companies are starting to drop the old horizontal leadership approach and break down traditional job descriptions in favour of collaboration and flexibility. According to the Kantar Futures study, 70% of millennials think that a company’s success depends on its ability to collaborate and demonstrate flexibility in volatile working environments, and not imposing a rigid structure on its employees.

Companies need to revisit their processes and managers should lead by making decisions with their employees. This sort of inclusive environment motivates teams and makes them feel more engaged, fostering creativity and productivity.


Align personal and professional values

Millennials have a different relationship to work than their predecessors. Although they’re ambitious and motivated, their identity doesn’t revolve around their job. It’s not enough for a job to be well-payed — millennials also want their work to be meaningful. They want to work for companies that align with their own values and passions, and to find a good work-life balance.  Millennials want the companies they work for to be built around positive values, to give their employees a sense of purpose and to support both their professional and personal priorities.

What does this mean in practice?

To be the kind of leader the new generation of employees expects (and respects), you need to:

  • Adopt an open communications model: relationships based on trust and transparency are the cornerstone of teamwork. Employees who communicate easily and openly are more efficient and proactive.
  • Create links: a good manager breaks silos to help their employees stay connected, but also promotes horizontal movement to bring together ideas and resources that may not be linked in a more rigid system.
  • Foster a culture of collaboration: train your employees to work in teams and encourage collaboration at all levels. Good leaders must lead by example.
  • Empower your employees with the right technology: use tools that support team cohesion and meet your employees’ growing need for mobility. Modern collaboration solutions will offer your teams an efficient way to work together, even remotely, and will show how you care about creating a collaborative work environment.
  • Adapt your processes: managers of the future will need to offer their employees more flexibility and put measures in place to promote work-life balance, such as remote working, flexible hours and more autonomy.

Companies hoping to boost their employees’ engagement and creativity while laying the groundwork for future generations will need to rethink their management methods – starting today!