Bye-Bye, Baby Boomers: Hiring the Next Generation of Managers

Bye-Bye, Baby Boomers: Hiring the Next Generation of Managers

Elizabeth Silas-Havas

When you picture hiring new managers over the next few years, the “commitment-shy narcissist” is likely at the bottom of your list. Yet Millennials—long stereotyped with those types of traits—are starting to take on more serious roles within organizations.

With approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day, Generation X continues to move up the ranks and take on more senior and executive leadership positions. Studies estimate that more than 25% of Millennial workers will become managers for the first time in 2016.

Are you doing enough to attract and foster the best of the next generation of leaders?

Millennials as Managers: What You Need to Know

Strong leaders in an organization can maximize efficiency, motivate employees, and set and achieve long-range goals. Younger workers are starting to fill those leadership roles, and most of them (91%) aspire to do so. In fact, 31% aspire to C-level positions. Stereotypes aside, are these potential leaders getting the training and making the opportunities that prepare them for these high-level functions?

Most Millennials think they have already begun to build some strengths to become a leader. More than half of them surveyed said the most important leadership skills are communication and relationship building; most also reported that those were among their strongest skills. Yet they are also aware of their weaknesses: 43% think they are shakiest in industry experience and 41% report feeling a lack of technical expertise.

This may have to do with the new norm of switching jobs more frequently. The very nature of job-hopping makes it challenging to gain true industry experience and technical expertise.

In addition, perhaps Millennials are distinctly aware of how complex, multidimensional, and mutable the roles of their organizations are in a time of both convergence and divergence. These results would show, then—thankfully—the opposite of a Dunning–Kruger effect in this generation. They know how much they don’t yet know.

Setting Younger Generations Up for Leadership Success

Some organizations need to change what they emphasize to bring younger workers up through the ranks and keep top talent. To become a more attractive employer, you may need to focus on developing your employer brand, which you can read about in our post here. To keep and cultivate the talent you already have, consider new methods.

Millennials aren’t looking for structured training programs that develop leadership skills; they want hands-on practice developing projects. Pairing them up with senior managers and executives to co-lead a project or strategic initiative provides a chance for mentoring relationships to emerge. Millennials want mentors, and those interactions can develop between individuals when they share authentic objectives.

Millennials also aren’t shy about voicing their desire for their companies to make an impact on society that’s in line with their values, such as inclusiveness and sustainability. Organizations need to allow for—and reward—leaders who empower others to succeed and flatten corporate hierarchies, developing team-based responsibilities and fluid decision-making processes.

Your company can build these possibilities into its culture and employer brand. Even your career site can bring these opportunities and company values up front for potential hires to notice.

Filling the Gaps

If Millennials lack industry and technical expertise, then continuing education is key. Online workforce development can be extremely useful for younger workers (68% said they find online training most effective). Google, for example, trains employees in leadership and teamwork with inexpensive online modules. Co-leadership projects and more formal mentoring programs can also set up the conditions for older workers to pass along their knowledge and model necessary skills for your industry.

Millennials also want more frequent feedback and reviews, as several studies have shown. Technology now enables almost real-time performance management, yet 58% of companies still use spreadsheets to track performance metrics. Your company can use that technology to support and challenge younger workers to excel, from entry level to management.

Cultivating Loyalty

More than half of Millennials worldwide would like to leave their current employer within the next two years. What about the more loyal Millennials? Those who seek to stay longer with their companies are those who perceive strong support for those who want to lead and believe their organizations define and pursue purposes beyond profit.

How will you attract and develop the most effective among them to become leaders—instead of leavers?

The largest working population is now comprised of millennials. Check out our latest guide 5 Quick Tips for Hiring Millennials for everything you need to know about attracting and recruiting this generation:

Hiring Millennialscareer site assessment



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