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Millennials as the New Boss

Millennials are growing up fast! And they’re quickly becoming the dominant leadership group in the American workforce.

In 2015, millennial employees – born between 1980 and 2000 – outstripped the Generation X’ers to become the largest age generation of employees currently working in the US across all demographics. Even more importantly, 25% of all millennials are assuming leadership roles.

What does this mean for the workplace? Well, for a lot of older American’s (nearly 71%) recently surveyed in a Reason-Rupe poll, it means dealing with a generation of bosses they see as being ‘selfish’ and ‘entitled’.

Which seems like a predictable response to up-and-coming whippersnappers, but a recent Capital One Spark Business Barometer survey revealed that Millennial-run small businesses are out-performing those run by their older counterparts. Millennial-run businesses are making more sales and hiring more employees than companies headed up by their older counterparts, so it may be time for Millennials can wear their ‘M’ badge proudly and for other generations to take notice of the appeal of the new mindset.

So what is this new mindset spurring small businesses to new levels of success? To understand how a Millennial might run a workplace, we need to look at what makes Millennials different from the generations that came before them – specifically Generation X and Generation Y.

Work Life Balance

One of the hallmarks of Gen X and Gen Y has been the solid separation of work and lifestyle. This is, after all, the generational pairing that pioneered the ‘work to live, not live to work’ philosophy.

Not so, for the Millennial – for whom multitasking is a way of life. The Millennial generation grew up, for the most part, with a doting helicopter parent scheduling activity after activity. For the Millennial, the work/life balance is more of a work/life blur. Expect your Millennial boss to encourage working from home, or on the way to the office or after dinner, or during happy hour or when insomnia strikes. Remember, for them, it’s the outcome and not strict adherence to the traditional process that’s important.

Team Oriented

Millennials are almost obsessively team-oriented when it comes to the workplace and this largely stems from the way they’ve been educated since Kindergarden. The focus was on shared learning, rather than individualistic achievement.

A Gen X or Gen Y employee may find themselves rolling their eyes at the attempts of their new Millennial boss to turn a work group into a squad of ‘best friends’; let alone when they suggest the group ‘take a yoga class to promote team bonding’. Millennials like to be on a level playing field with their peers (as well as their superiors) seeking inclusion for more than just being ‘entitled’ but to learn, enrich and feel valued. As the new boss, they’ll want to include you to show they value your input. Namaste!


Where previous generations were happy to keep communication and assessment on a need-to-know basis, the Millennial is literally the exact opposite. Your Millennial supervisor will be in communication with you constantly, such is their proficiency with social media and other communication technology. Get ready to receive work instructions via Whatsapp and a daily dose of motivation via Snapchat!

Millennials as an emerging manager is inevitable, but a Millennial as a boss doesn’t have to be a bad thing, just a different. If they approach the task in a different way than you’re used to, it might be worth seeing how it goes, rather than writing it off as the actions of a ‘selfish’ and ‘entitled’ young upstart!

Change might not always be welcome, but most of the time it’s a positive thing.

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