Rise of the Millennial Manager

As more and more young people take up senior management roles, how can companies and older members of staff deal with the changing of the guard? Hazel Jackson, BIZ Group CEO, tackles the issue
By Hazel Jackson
Tue 20 Mar 2018 12:30 PM

We are seeing a cultural shift happening here in the UAE, as the number of millennial managers increases. We know that in the MENA region, 40 per cent of the total population is under the age of 25, which is right in the middle of the millennials’ bracket. According to the Dubai Statistics Centre, in Dubai alone, 50.9 and 51.7 per cent of the emirate’s total male and female workforce in 2016 respectively, were between 20 and 34 years old.

One thing about millennials is cast in stone: as a demographic cohort, this over-20 and under-35 societal group is increasingly finding itself thrust into positions of corporate and industry power. With the generational prevalence for all things digital, the millennial manager is here to stay.

As millennials move into positions of authority, we’re seeing increasing differences in leadership styles. When an emboldened millennial leader that prefers a communicative and teamwork-centric approach to management goes head-to-head with a more traditional, bottom-line-focused style preferred by more experienced leaders, there’s an inevitable clash of ideas.

It’s more important than ever before, especially as regional firms confront this era of digital transformation, that today’s leaders impart effective management skills to future leaders. The fusion of traditional leadership techniques and a new style of digital leadership is the optimum desired outcome for businesses to achieve their objectives.

What challenges are millennials facing as they climb the professional ladder? Ironically, the challenges are sometimes created by the differing mindsets between them and their more experienced colleagues. However, we want to encourage both to embrace an outward mindset in order to overcome these challenges.

According to a recent global study by Future Workplace, 83 per cent of surveyed respondents said they have millennial managers in the office, while nearly 50 per cent of respondents over-55 believe millennials are ‘ill-equipped’ to manage teams.

There are several advantages to hiring millennial managers, especially if you are looking for fresh ideas. They can provide better digital engagement for your business and, given the exponential pace of technology development, a team that is driven to succeed in a future world that we can only imagine. The younger workforce today are digital natives, increasingly focused on online platforms to access information and find solutions. Companies are encouraged to embrace this shift and promote or employ millennial managers in order to see their company continue to grow.

There is a perception that current leaders are stuck in their ways and are less likely to embrace new ways of working, whereas millennials are constantly searching for new techniques and processes. However, we are seeing a shift in the way more experienced leaders embrace the digital age and it is a fine line that requires balance, between old and new, experience and invention. The challenge is getting both generations to embrace each other’s way of working effectively together.

With a suite of curated learning journeys, Biz Group offers solutions to many regional businesses’ challenges, including those caused through generational differences in leadership styles. These learning journeys are designed to maximise learners’ retention, transfer learning back into the workplace and provide tangible results for the business.

Delivered through a combination of face-to-face workshops, virtual learning circles, brain science-based reinforcement, work-based assignments, coaching, digital learning, on-demand content and gamification, our learning journeys are carefully constructed so that the experience is relevant for the individual learner – no matter the age – and the overall business.

The age of people working in the UAE is definitely dropping, even though traditional industries – such as oil and gas – still have a generally older workforce. New industries emerging in the UAE tend to be run and staffed by a younger, digitally-savvy demographic – and everyone is looking to monetise the digital era. There is a culture shift happening and we encourage businesses to be prepared now or risk falling behind.

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