Article: Decoding Millennial Bosses: Korn Ferry Research

Employee Relations

Decoding Millennial Bosses: Korn Ferry Research

A recent Korn Ferry report sought to understand how millennial bosses work and how others perceive them.
Decoding Millennial Bosses: Korn Ferry Research

With millennial workers set to constitute 35% of the global workforce by 2020, understanding how they work, lead and progress in their career will allow for a smooth transition to new practices, cultures and norms. Gradually, millennials are also beginning to occupy leadership positions, and they are even managing big teams consisting of multi-generational employees. While a lot of effort and resources has gone into unravelling what goes on in the mind of a quintessential millennial worker, not enough attention has been paid to millennial bosses. In this context, a recent Korn Ferry study released earlier this month attempts to understand how managers, particularly millennial bosses operate in the workplace of today. 

What is the research?

Consulting firm Korn Ferry collected responses from 1,537 working professionals in February 2018 to understand how managers and bosses of different generations, especially millennial managers, prefer to work and are perceived by their teams. The report said that since millennials are increasingly moving into leadership and management positions, it becomes pertinent to understand how they prefer working and communicating. Millennial leaders were defined as those born between 1981 and 1996.

What did the research find?

The survey tried to establish how millennial bosses prefer to work and communicate with their teams and colleagues. While 59% of the respondents said that it is very or somewhat common in their organisation that a millennial is managing employees from older generations,  the remaining 41% said it is not very common. Here are some of the other findings of the report: 

Millennial Bosses’ Choice of Communication 

  • 55% of the respondents said that ‘online messaging’ is the most common way for millennial bosses to communicate with those directly reporting to them

  • This was followed by email (28%), face to face communication (14%) and over the phone (3%)

  • 29% of all respondents said that they wished their millennial bosses would communication more in person

  • Other responses include: keeping their bosses fully informed (27%) and living up to the company culture (19%)

Perception of Millennial Bosses

  • On being quizzed upon what millennial managers do best, 65% of all the respondents opined that they created flexibility in the workplace

  • 75% of the respondents stated that their millennial managers are qualified for the job and have earned the position they are at

  • However, 70% of the respondents agree that Gen X and Baby Boomer bosses are of the belief that they work harder than millennial bosses in their organisation

Motivators for Millennial Bosses 

  • While interviewing for management positions, millennials state that making an impact on the organisational culture is their number one priority, alongside a good work-life balance (both at 25%)

  • Other priorities are career progression (17%), ability to work flexibly (17%) and autonomy (8%)

  • Salary (5%) is considered one of the least important factors by millennials when taking up a management role

  • Compared to Gen X and Baby Boomers bosses, knowing what comes next is of critical importance to millennial bosses. A clear advancement path is important for 74% of the millennial bosses and very important for 49% of them

Samantha Wallace, Korn Ferry Futurestep, North American Market Leader, Technology, says, “Members of the millennial generation are really coming into their own in the workplace. They may not approach management the same way as bosses from different generations, but instead of fighting change, adapting to the dynamic culture millennials bring will help companies succeed...Millennials tend to value clear communication and feedback, and organizational leaders seeking the best and brightest from this generation must work closely with millennial managers to provide well laid out career paths,” said Wallace.

The results provide significant insight into how millennial bosses are doing things differently. The results are essential as they help shape and design communication, employee engagement and team management policies in an evolving workplace. Organisations all over the world are already beginning to tailor their strategies to woo and retain millennial workers, and this trend is only likely to intensify in the future. For the HR, this translates into a complete overhaul of conventional recruitment, employer branding, and engagement policies. Employers and the HR will be walking a tightrope in balancing the expectations and priorities of a multi-generational workforce. They will have to adopt innovative practices to ensure equitable growth and learning opportunities for all employees. While the challenge to live up to expectations of different workers might seem insurmountable and daunting at first, it is also exciting and thrilling in equal part. Rest assured, the impending transformation of workplace policies in the near future holds a promise of being inventive, fresh and ground-breaking. 



ManPower Group 2020 Vision

Korn Ferry Press Release

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Topics: Employee Relations, Life @ Work

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