It’s official now: Young people are in the driver’s seat in corporate America. Job offers are plentiful, and hiring managers are scrambling. Stephanie Armour, reports in USA Today that he majority of hiring managers feel like they have to convince a candidate to take their job. And one-third of employees are already looking to leave after six months. This is true even in what we used to see at the most desirable fields, like banking.
The rules of what makes a good candidate are changing, and so are the rules of what makes a good manager. Good candidates provide high value on day one, a key since they are more likely than ever to leave early. And a good manager knows how to give employees what they need to be effective every day they are with the company.
It sounds like mayhem, right? In fact, we are watching the emergence of a more collaborative, hands-on, caring approach to management than ever before, and the result might be a workplace that is more productive and fulfilling for everyone.
The energy for this change comes from the convergence of the fact that millennials refuse to stay in jobs that don’t help them grow, and businesses are desperate to recruit and retain young employees . Even the big firms, such as Ernst & Young, pursue initiatives such as recruiting via Facebook, text messaging, and video blogs in an effort to be heard above the cacophony of voices courting young workers.
Enter Bruce Tulgan, author of It’s Okay to Be the Boss: The Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the Manager Your Employees Need, (and video blogger on Brazen Careerist). Tulgan is evangelizing a new kind of management — where people actually do it.
“We have an undermanagement epidemic,” says Tulgan. “Managers walk around saying, ‘I’m hands off, I’m letting you do your own thing.’ ” But what they really mean is, “I’m busy. I’m doing my own thing. I cannot hold your hand.”
But Tulgan says that today’s workers want flexibility and customized work environments. And, “there is no chance on earth that a manager who is not engaged can be flexible and generous.” For example, Tulgan says, “Managers who keep really close track of results don’t care when the work gets done.”
If the recommendation to check in with employees daily makes you cringe, you are probably not in your 20s. Millennials were raised to have adults training them, coaching them, and making sure the world went smoothly so they could learn and grow to their fullest potential.
So it’s no surprise that this is what young people want at work. Annemieke Rice is a great example of a millennial at the office: a highly motivated, tech-savvy, educated employee who wants a lot of face time. She is a student services coordinator at Northeastern University, and she is more than willing to work for the lower salary typical in higher education, just to have a boss who mentors her, challenges her, and opens new doors.
“One of the reasons I’m so motivated is because my boss really lets me know she appreciates me,” Rice says. “Like, she stops by and gives me special projects to do. And she’s always available to sit down with me and let me ask a lot of questions about the back story.” Rice also expects regular feedback and guidance so that she is always on a productive path within the organization. Previous generations saw a manager as someone who collected dues early on — a sort of ticket-taker for the ride up the corporate ladder. So a manager was someone to be avoided at all costs.
Rice, however, would never think of waiting until later to start learning the nuts and bolts. She wants to see her boss regularly because Rice views her boss as a teacher for the adult world. “I would rather my boss tell me now that I’m doing it wrong than I do it wrong for the next 20 years and don’t get to where I want to go.”
Managing someone like Rice is a lot of work. But young people today are consumers for everything — even when it comes to shopping for a boss. So if you want to hire top talent, understand that top talent wants to be managed by top talent. And you’re not top if you are not hands on.
And before you say you don’t have time to manage, understand that Tulgan has heard it before. “Managers who think they don’t have time to manage spend their time managing anyway, but it’s all crisis management that could be avoided if they were hands-on managers every day.”
Here is a list from Tulgan of five how-tos for managers:
1. Manage every day, not just on certain occasions, such as a project explodes.
2. Solve small problems every day so they don’t grow into big ones.
3. Have lots and lots of boring conversations instead of one, big conversation.
4. Reward people for what they accomplish; don’t treat people equally because accomplishments are not equal
5. Think of empowerment as helping someone to succeed instead of leaving them alone.
Tape the list to your keyboard if you’re a manager. Email it anonymously if you’re poorly supervised – and if nothing changes, shop for a new manager, of course.