As of 2016, millennials became the largest generation in the workforce, so in the wake of this shift we’ve now seen a rise in the number of millennial managers as businesses become more and more influenced by a younger generation.
Since we employ so many fantastic millennials at UK call-handling specialists CALLCARE, we asked the question: what does the future look like with “80s and 90s kids” at the helm of the labour market? And if you’re just at the beginning of your career, what can you do to get to an influential position before your early 20s are over?
While Generation X have seen their own ideals dictate business practices around the world, millennials are bringing about plenty of disruptions to the status quo.
We spoke to Leo Aspden, career development coach at Leo Aspden Coaching and Development, to find out what it is about millennials that can make them genuinely great managers.
They define success differently
While many Gen Xers prioritised a competitive salary, millennials have a different focus. Young people are becoming less motivated by money, and more bothered about securing a fulfilling job,” says Leo. “Finding fulfilling work can help you be present in your job, deal with stress, and avoid burnout, which really shows in your performance.”
Millennials’ dedication to finding work satisfaction means they can quickly leave roles they don’t enjoy. This is actually good for businesses; rather than continue to perform poorly, millennials will leave a job they hate, and if they find one they love, they’ll work hard to get it done properly, whatever they’re earning.
They want to create a fair and democratic environment
When surveyed, 75% of millennials said they thought businesses should be flexible enough to help employees achieve a good work-life balance. Millennials are also working together to destigmatise mental health issues, seeing them as just as important as physical illnesses.
Leo emphasises the importance of having this kind of emotional intelligence if millennials want to ensure they have a strong career. “For those who want to secure and keep a leadership position,” Leo explains, “it’s crucial to possess awareness of how their own emotions and actions may impact others.”
This is especially important with a growing millennial workforce, he says, “as the younger generation is now favouring a less authoritative management style.” Which is true: research conducted by American Express found that millennials would like to base their leadership on democracy and run flatter organisations than previous generations.
They care about everyone’s development
“For those seeking a management position at a young age, self-awareness of what is needed in terms of any personal learning and development is crucial,” says Leo.
Millennials already exhibit a strong belief in the power of lifelong learning: 94% said that employee development is the number-one area they would invest time and money into as managers, seeing it as a crucial factor in determining the success of a business.
Leo also emphasises the importance of self-development. “Any gaps in skill set should be filled in order for that step up to management level to happen,” he says. “Those that are able to recognise their own strengths - and equally, weaknesses - will be able to make that step more quickly.”
These radical shifts in focus are proving to be instrumental in making it easier for young but talented individuals to bring great ideas to the table, have their efforts recognised, and rise through the ranks quickly.
How to become a manager before you’re 25: Our top tips
We spoke with some inspiring professionals who have landed impressive roles at a young age, here’s how they did it…
1. Set specific goals
Billy Dee, Head of Diversity PR at Thinking Hat PR, was headhunted for the position of PR Manager for Ministry of Sound - at the time the world’s biggest independent music company - at just 25 years old.
Her advice for others looking to do the same is to set goals you want to hit. “Set solid yearly targets and stick to them as if they are life or death. I was determined to be a manager by 25 and when it became clear my current company weren't going to allow that, I immediately started searching for somewhere else that would.”
Setting goals helps you measure your progress against your own ideals, which helps motivate you to step up when there’s a new opportunity you can take.
2. Get ahead of the game
Graduating from university can leave some people feeling lost and uncertain about the future, but some students can secure a career path ahead of time by working in the summers between semesters.
Sarah Benson, now an Account Manager at KC Communications, landed a management role because of the hard work she’d put in with the business over the course of her degree.
“After I graduated,” Sarah says, “the Directors sat down with me and discussed the opportunity of an internal promotion to fill the role rather than recruiting externally. They explained that they felt I had an in-depth knowledge of the accounts and proved I could take on the responsibility.”
Sarah now manages two people in current role, but has ambitions to become an Account Director before she turns 30. She credits her success to her proactive approach while at university.
“I very much believe that taking advantage of work experience in the sector you wish to work in during University is absolutely vital in getting ahead and ensuring that you don’t end up walking into a graduate-level job on a basic salary.”
3. Do what you enjoy, even if it’s not what you expect
The pressure to go into a field that relates to our degree can be almost overwhelming, but it’s not necessarily the best choice if you want to progress.
Jodie Pilgrim, 21, quit her graduate position at an accountancy firm to work full-time for Party Hard Travel, organising their UK club tour while recruiting and overseeing new brand ambassadors.
“I felt like a huge weight had been lifted,” said Jodie. “At the accountancy firm I felt like a tiny cog in a huge wheel, whereas now I’m part of a small close-knit team with real influence.” Her passion for the role has quickly taken her into a position of influence, despite the fact it didn’t align with her initial idea of what she wanted to do.
Forging the future
The most encouraging thing for young professionals to recognise is that many of the old unspoken rules in the workplace are being challenged. With every success story of a young person in business, companies around the world are rethinking what constitutes a good manager, looking at the skills of their employees, rather than the years they’ve racked up.
Those that can embrace self-development early on and find a role they’re passionate about can quickly climb the ranks to land themselves a role that’s both challenging and rewarding.
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