#63 Managing Millennials

by Steven Cerri on July 1, 2008

Manage groups or individuals?

Hello everyone!

There was an article published recently in CIO magazine (http://www.cio.com), June 24, 2008, “Coaching Style Matters in Managing Millennials). It stated that those employees that are classified as the Millenial generation are best managed by using Coaching as a management style. It went on to list certain approaches the author thought best for this specific age group.

While there may well be behaviors that people of a similar age have in common, generalizations like that are for managers who don’t have the competence to be managers. (How’s that for a provocative statement?) Classification of people in an attempt to make management “manageable” is not the solution.

The reality is that no one is “managed” as a group. Each person is ultimately managed as an individual. Think about your own situation. When you are being managed by your manager do you feel there is a one-on-one connection to your manager and his or her direction? You aren’t managed as a group. You are managed as an individual.

Try this on. If you are thinking about voting in this years’ presidential election, how have you decided for whom to vote? Have you decided because your friends are voting for him? Have you decided because he represents your party? You may answer “yes” to one or both of these questions and yet here is the question that is most important. Are you casting your vote because the candidate most closely represents, in your mind, who you are?

I’m sure the answer is Yes to the last question. We all vote for the candidate that most closely represents us. Who we are. Voting for a candidate is a personal, one-on-one, individual process.

The same is true for management. All management is one-on-one. Even when we, as managers, are managing a large group, the only reason people decide to follow us is because they “see” something of themselves in us and it’s enough for them to say, “Ok, I’ll follow you.” If it were as easy as grouping people the issue would go away. We’d know how to do it. But the issue doesn’t go away. So the grouping of people must not be working. How about a different approach?

Therefore, as much as we’d like to group people into groups like Gen-X, or Gen-Y, or Millennials, it doesn’t help much. The best approach I’ve found is obviously my approach. I think I’ve developed the best approach and I call it “Contextual Leadership©”. It is composed of two major functions: Contextual Definition© and Hierarchy of Contextual Leadership Styles©. I take a fundamentally different approach.

Contextual Definition looks at seven parameters regarding the direct report, the manager, and the situation and determines the context to be managed. The Hierarchy of Contextual Leadership Styles is a set of eight leadership and management styles that are then selected based on the Contextual Definition. This process will lead to the best management approach for a given individual, manager, and situation.

This negates any concern for what group or generation we are working with, including gender. I keep harping on contextual leadership because I believe it makes management more successful and it makes management much more “manageable”.

Enough said.

Be well,

Steven Cerri

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