Hiring Middle Management Millennials? Here Are 6 Traits to Look Out For
When looking at a company’s organisational chart, you may wonder why middle managers are there and what role they play. These middle managers are the next group to eventually take on senior leadership. More and more millennials (Generation Y) are filling middle management roles, so as an employer, it’s essential to learn how to hire millennials.
Middle managers are tasked with ensuring the organisation’s mission or company strategy is implemented most efficiently. More and more companies are now running on a flatter management structure, allowing middle managers to play an increasingly important role. They are making more critical decisions that would have been made by the top management people in the past.
Hence, hiring the right talent is vital. Middle management can either make or break a project in your company. However, you might find hiring millennials difficult; they are now the largest workforce, and many are old enough to take charge. Branded as tech-savvy, bold and ‘disloyal’, the millennials are critical workers as they will be the future leaders of your company once the older generation steps down.
Who are millennials?
According to the Pew Research Center, a millennial is defined as someone who was born between 1981 and 1996. So, now you have millennials in their early 40s and some in their late 20s. This group is an interesting bunch of people because they are the first to experience living in an always-on digital world.
How are millennial leaders different from Gen X leaders?
Millennials are different from their more senior Gen X leaders when it comes to the way they work and lead teams. For example, a millennial prefers a flatter organisation and would do away with hierarchies. Millennials are more adaptable and open to change if it means more efficient processes and happier employees. To them, moving one step closer to meeting a company’s goal is enough reason to allow flexibility.
What makes millennials unique?
There is a misconception that millennials are entitled and not as hardworking as their Gen X counterparts. Millennials grew up alongside the world as it advanced, so they’re tech-savvy and adventurous. They’re open to change and not afraid to share their opinions. They’re motivated and passionate about the things they do, including work. They’re driven to work hard and solve problems in their personal lives and at work. (Read more: Decoding Digital Talent: What are digital workers looking for?)
What are the characteristics of Gen Y leaders?
If you’re unsure how to hire millennials for middle management, here are the common traits to look out for when interviewing candidates.
1. They show potential as a leader. According to a study conducted by The Hartford, millennials don’t just aspire to be leaders in the next five years; they already consider themselves leaders today. Millennials have developed leadership capabilities much earlier than their Gen X counterparts. However, the desire to be a leader can either be a good thing or a problem.
Having a confident manager is good; however, rushing into middle management and desperately trying to make an impact by committing trial and error may not be favourable to the company. Be sure to look for managers who understand the full responsibility of the job that they are pursuing by giving them situational tests. Ask the candidates about their previous job achievements to track their success history as a leader.
2. They are strategic thinkers. Being able to execute the strategy of the company is the most crucial role of a middle manager. Not only does the candidate need to fully understand the company strategy, but they also need to be innovative and strategic; these skills help develop business strategies that would generate a greater success rate. A middle manager oversees identifying what specific tasks or goals each person in their team needs to do to achieve the company’s strategy.
During the interview process, test if the candidate possesses strategic thinking skills. Some questions you can ask are:
How do you inform your team and other departments about your strategic decisions?
Share a time when you proactively found a problem in your job. How did you solve it?
What are your considerations when creating an action plan for tasks?
How do you measure whether a strategic plan is effective or not?
More importantly, explain the strategy and goals set by your company and the significance of these goals. Millennials are purpose-driven. Understanding the importance of their roles creates a more profound passion for working harder (and smarter!) for the company.
3. They are team players. One of the most important aspects of middle management is managing and supervising the junior staff.
The best combination comes from a manager who works well and cares for their team, encouraging the best possible results from all their hard work. Millennials are naturally good at building camaraderie and often do not practice traditional hierarchies. Since they favour flat organisations, they are good at knowing how to report to their managers while being a manager themselves. A middle manager has to find balance because they report to senior leadership while handling juniors.
A positive leader also directly influences retention efforts as they can inspire their team to feel good about their jobs and enable them to be aligned with their company goals. Ask the candidates for examples of how they managed to solve a problem with their teammates. What factors would they consider when working on a project with their team?
4. They have strong social skills. The middle management role also involves managing senior management and junior staff. Ideally, middle managers must possess good people skills that include problem-solving abilities and a willingness to work together between the two parties. Millennials grew up with technology, making it easier for them to connect with people professionally and personally.
Look for someone who possesses excellent people management skills and can communicate and relate to others well on a personal and professional level.
5. They are collaborative. Millennials are open to working across teams if it means delivering better outputs more efficiently. They like getting the views of other colleagues as these can help in decision-making. Being in a collaborative work environment also means they share their own ideas, too.
When interviewing a millennial, you can ask how they work with other teams and what kind of collaborative work they have done in their previous jobs. Chances are, if the person you are interviewing has collaborated with others at work, they also can express themselves well.
6. They are open to challenging norms. Gen Y managers are not afraid to set standards and question the norms at work. Since they are tech-savvy, they know that time is of the essence. They move fast. If they see processes in the workplace that aren’t working, they aren’t afraid to speak up and point out what’s not working. However, when they speak up, they also have a solution in mind.
Millennials aren’t just here to stay; they are here to conquer. They are our future leaders and will be at the forefront of our revenue-generators. As more and more millennials move up in management ranks, companies must learn how to hire millennials. Organisations and senior leadership must recognise their value as the driving force of company strategy and what they bring to the table.