Why Millennials Don't Want to be Managed

millennials Feb 03, 2017

Management is essential in every walk of life. If you are like the majority, you probably manage what you eat, how much you sleep, and how much you exercise. You manage to throw in some quality time with family, friends, and even colleagues. You manage your personal finances which leaves room for spontaneous spending on the weekends, splurging on high dollar restaurants, and then you leave just the right amount of wiggle room to do it all again next week.

Management in the workplace is very similar. Many workplace managers may not track what you eat, but they do track when you eat. Workplace managers may not track when you sleep, but with projects and deadlines looming it is very possible they could effect how you sleep. Workplace managers may not track your exercise routines, but with many corporate environments under immense pressure they could very well burn you out before you even step foot in the gym. Workplace managers may or may not respect your quality time with family, friends, and colleagues. They don’t care about your personal finances, they only care about your numbers.

If you are manager, I know what you’re thinking… “Wow, he must really hate managers!” Or better yet, “Geeze, what did his manager ever do to him?”

The chances are that if you are offended, then you may need to re-evaluate how you are managing your team. On the other hand, if you read that last section and feel that none of those things apply to you, you probably aren’t the manager I am putting on blast. You, my friend, are something much more than just a manager.

Managers manage by using the authority placed on them by their superior. They do so out of duty, because a good manager does as they are told in fear of losing their job. A good manager is skilled at setting performance goals based off of data. A good manager will manage their teams by delegating necessary tasks to achieve the desired outcome. A good manager does not need a vision, a good manager must only manage to do just enough for this week’s paycheck. A good manager effectively manages a process that they have seen before and effectively reacts to changes in environment.

… And that’s a good manager.

Maybe it’s just me, but the concept of being a manager just never sat well with me. No, I didn’t have a bad experience with an entry-level manager at my very first job at a Philly-Cheesesteak joint as a busboy. No, I wasn’t fired by that same manager for not being able to fry chicken strips to the right temperature, which led to him making a scene and throwing f-bombs with customers watching. None of that ever happened, or did it? I digress.

Ah yes, the concept of management never sat well with me and it’s not for the details I just gave you, it’s something completely different. Maybe it’s just the “millennial” in me, but the word “manager” rings a bell in my head similar to the word “mediocre”. Managers manage, which clearly means that managers are just delegates of busy work that organizational leadership doesn’t have time to do. Managers are hired and fired for the sake of numbers and production. This goes for managers of all levels. When I am speaking on the negativity that pure management brings to an organization, I am speaking to the upper management of large organizations all the way down to entry-level call center managers. For an organization to thrive there must be more than just management, there must be leadership!

Leadership, now that’s a concept I can get behind. At the end of the day most people want to be leaders, there aren’t many who want to be followers. In fact, if you are reading this, I can almost guarantee you that you don’t want to be a follower. You are more interested in leading a winning team, leading them to success, growing together, and taking complete ownership of every failure of your team! Yes, leadership also means taking ownership in the midst of failures. Everything rises and falls on leadership, even the failures.

When it comes time for the annual review of a manager, they may blame the external environment, the competitive landscape, and the economy for their lack of production. Many managers even point to a lack of talent on their teams, which may lead to people getting reassigned, fired, or laid off. Managers manage to do just enough to squeak by. When the times are good managers confuse their own results with their team's results and tend to take credit for their teams wins. When times are not so good, managers tend to shift blame in order to look good to their superiors. Managers play it safe, they make small and meaningless decisions that don’t create positive change because of their fear of failure. This leads to a lack of innovation in the workplace.

Leaders on the other hand are different because they lead with intention, with inspiration, and with passion. Leader’s make no excuses when it comes to results. They won’t blame external factor’s for lack of results, they look internally and re-evaluate their own results. They don’t blame the economy for lack of sales, they maintain a clear vision and see opportunity in market volatility. They don’t blame their team for failures, they own up themselves. Leader’s take responsibility for failures and share the wins with their team. Leader’s care more about leading their team to success than achieving success on their own. Leaders give and take constructive feedback well and work to implement tasks that will produce a higher level of results.

See the difference?
Let me get one thing straight… Managers can be leaders, and leaders can be managers. But not all managers are leaders, and not all leaders are managers.

It’s a false perception in society to think that all leaders must have a high ranking position. In fact, many leaders do not have a high ranking in their jobs and companies, but they do have high value. It’s also a false perception to think that just because someone has a high ranking position automatically makes them a leader. Some higher-ups have the title but not the vision. They may have the position of an organizational leader but still have the mentality of a manager.

Sometimes leaders are at the bottom of the totem pole leading from underneath their superiors and sometimes turn out to be great influencers of change. These leaders are underrated and many times go unnoticed if they are reporting to a manager. The manager may utilize these lowly leaders to achieve numbers, but shake their head at new ideas. Leading from the bottom can be tough, especially when the manager is simply working for the next paycheck. But believe it or not, that is the opportunity for young millennials.

Lead from the bottom and make an impact at the top if you are a millennial who wants to climb the ladder quickly. Lead with positivity, passion, and persistence. Showing your manager that you can take the lead on projects will automatically place you in high regard. Speaking out when appropriate and not conforming to group-think can help you stand out among your colleagues. Proactively leading team discussions and encouraging your team will also allow you to be seen as a leader to your manager.

If you are a manager, making the transition from a management style to a true leadership can be a tough one. This especially is true if you have spent years managing employees, tasks, and projects. The transition must take place at some point in order to be successful. During the transition you may get funny looks from your employees at first, but I assure you that the change will be positive.

The point of all of this is that leaders create change! Leaders activate the best in people and inspire their followers to believe in something bigger than themselves. Leaders lead from within. They use their passion and ideas to lead people. Leaders aren’t always found at the top of the organizational hierarchy, but they are found affecting the people at the top. Whether you are leading your family, your team, your manager, or your organization, leadership starts with the willingness to create positive change and accept full accountability for the successes and failures of your team. Whether it is to lead themselves or to be led by someone else, everyone craves leadership in some fashion. Nobody craves management.

Millennials don't want to be managed, they want to be led!


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