Millennials Are Changing How We Work Part 1

Millennials don’t mean to change how we work – they just are. Millennials (or Gen Y), are going after what they want – what their parents told them they deserved. “You can do anything.” “You are terrific.” “You shouldn’t settle.” Do any of those statements sound familiar?Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 3.48.39 PM

I think its great Millennials are changing how we work and the overall management style. It’s because Millennials expectations are different from even the most conservative leaders are also changing their expectations. For example, more and more Boomers are embracing office collaboration, are taking advantage of technology and are seeing the advantages of flexible work schedules – for the benefit of business, its employees and their families.

Changing Corporate Culture

With four generations in the workplace and Millennials moving into leadership roles, management styles are also changing. For example, along with wanting ‘more’, Millennials find hierarchy a challenge. It’s not disrespect; it’s all about accessing information in a timely manner. If their bosses’ boss has what they need (and their boss is in a meeting), then the Millennials solution is to access the corner office and ask directly. And guess what – we are also seeing a shift where senior leaders are more comfortable giving information to different levels of the organization – and wanting to be called by their fist name.

Communication Protocols Get Tricky

Where Boomers and Gen X might be more comfortable with phone and face-to-face communications, Millennials and Gen Z might be more comfortable with IM or email. There is no one best answer… but there is value to different solutions. IM is instant but it can be more intrusive than email and IM is difficult to express complex ideas. Email allows for detailed explanation and is a good place to archive decisions. Phone, video and face-to-face allow for flexible dialogue, brainstorming and creativity.

While I teach full courses on effective communication, I hope you gather from this that we all need to stay flexible with how we communicate; one size does not fit all… no matter what generation you are from. Choice and flexibility are key for employees, friends and clients.

Workplace Flexibility

Workplace flexibility can mean different things to different people.

Flexibility might mean working at the cottage to make a well-deserved extra long weekend, or it might mean joining a conference call from home that is taking place in another time zone. Flexibility might also mean the ability to have open, non-judgmental discussion within a collaborative team – where everyone has an equal voice. Or, workplace flexibility might mean a 2-hour lunch, which gives you time to exercise and still grab a healthy lunch (supporting an employees mental, emotional, and physical well-being).

The take home is that workplace flexibility isn’t a luxury or a perk, it’s a respectful and necessary way of doing business AND it’s one of the new pillars that employee loyalty is built on… for all 4 generations.

The Changing Workplace

Millennials are leading the charge to change the workspace for everyone… including:

  • Greater desire for and ability to work in teams (Collaboration)
  • Wanting a friendly work environment
  • Knowing how they are making a difference – today
  • Knowing Why They are doing XYZ
  • Wanting to be challenged
  • A hunger to always be learning
  • Being hungry for feedback about goals and performance
  • Taking responsibility for mistakes – learning from them – and then move on… letting them go.
  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Feeling their contributions are recognized

Don’t Be Left Behind

A great friend of mine from Toronto just moved to Montreal to be with his aging Mom. His employer agreed to have him work remotely (600 kilometres).

The employers choice was really quite simple; A: Look at things differently or B: Lose a valued, experienced employee. Because of the choices they made, the employer now has a VERY loyal employee who doesn’t want to screw up the great opportunity that’s been shared with him.

Click here for Part 2 of this dialogue on How Millennials Are Changing How We Work.


Millennials have grown up with technology and flexibility and instant access to information and instant feedback from their parents, teachers and coaches to Facebook and other social networks. So why shouldn’t they want this from their employers, mentors, friends and coworkers?

Happy communicating, experiencing, learning and changing.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

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