Also known as Generation Y, born between the 1980s and the early 2000s, millennials have started dominating our workforce. More than one-in-three American workers today are millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015), and in 2015 they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to a Pew Research Centre analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data (Source).
A study published by EY in 2013 summarizes that Millennials are tech-savvy, but aren’t great team players. Gen X-ers are entrepreneurial-thinking but rank low on executive presence. And last, but not least, Boomers are team players and loyal, but don’t adapt so well.
With such a dramatic shift in persona at the workplace, the traditional project management philosophies may not be feasible anymore, when it comes to getting results. Millennials, on the other hand, need to adapt to be successful in a project management career.
Here are a few gems of advice for millennials to excel in project management roles.
Be a Rebel with a cause
It’s well known that millennials don’t care much for the run of the mill 20th Century workplace guidelines. “That’s how it’s always done” is not going to cut it for them. But rebelling is not the answer. Millennials need to lead the way as to change agents. They need to work hand in hand with the management to bring change that is tied to business outcomes. The HR function has a significant role to play in bringing this shift in workplaces.
Disrupt if it leads to innovation
This is the age of disruption. Be it Transport, Travel, Music, Technology or any other sector, disruption is the name of the game. As cool as it sounds, it is important to remember that disruption succeeds only when it gives replaces something existing with something better. Disruption without positive intent is destruction. Leaders need to take this aspect into consideration when trying to formulate a vision for the company and build a culture that fosters disruptive innovation.
Bet on your strengths
In a survey conducted by Deloitte, six out of ten millennials said a sense of purpose was part of the reason they chose to work for their current employer. Having a sense of purpose is a key differentiator and can add tremendous value to an organization. Having a “can do, will do” work ethic can inspire peers and managers to push the boundaries and excel at the workplace. Leaders need to ensure that there is a strong vision in place for millennials to subscribe to; one that goes beyond the mundaneness of everyday tasks.
Don’t settle for less
We live in a flat world today. Hierarchies, geographical distances and time zones don’t hold any significance anymore. Millennials want to be heard; they want to be part of the decision making process. Organizations cannot afford to have a bureaucratic and hierarchical management style or they will risk alienating the workforce. A workplace that encourages inclusive decision making, collaboration, and two-way communication is the ideal millennial workplace and they shouldn’t settle for anything less than that.
Systems are boring but important
Processes, Tools, Guidelines, Best Practices; yea they sound lame and boring, but they work! It is important to be open to a structured working environment because, at this age or any, standardization holds the key to being productive. It also keeps chaos at bay. On the other hand, companies need to invest in tools that provide intuitive and engaging user experiences. Project Leaders need to focus on bringing creativity and innovation into a process-oriented work environment.
Every passing generation finds it difficult to adapt to the new generation and that’s how the cookie crumbles. In a workplace though, that will not fly. Organizations need to be progressive and prepare themselves to provide a professional platform for the future generations. Come to think of it, the very evolution of project management discipline can be attributed to generational shifts in the thinking process.
Are you a millennial? What do you have to say about this?