Age is relative…

A millennial manager in charge of older workers is a hot topic in some corners. There is much feel good fluff written favoring the millennial manager.

Some of these articles fill millennial heads with all sorts of things — most of which that aren’t good for an experienced project team and their projects. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first to say that there is a wisdom in youth and wisdom in age. I just have found way too much of a slant against older workers in some of these articles that don’t match with what I see in the real world.

I’ve had the good fortune of working for some younger managers and clients on projects that prospered because of the manager. However, on the flip side, I had the misfortune of working with some younger managers who felt entitled to the position because their graduate degree was some key to the city.

Here are five things people are afraid to say to millenial managers:

  1. You got the job because you are cheaper. A lot of life is not about who uou know but rather “who is the lowest of three bidders?” Whether or not you are a go getter or had the position thrust upon you, chances are your salary (even with a raise) is lower than a seasoned manager who should be filling the role. Budget cuts, contracts ending and related business matters could have increased your appeal, not your graduate degree.
  2. You got the job because you are “safe.” You don’t know enough to challenge the management who put you into your new role. You still believe that people make it into management by doing the right thing and having the skill sets for the job. The senior team members may think of management as a joke or have other reasons why they did make a run for the management job.
  3. It about the project, stupid! It’s not about you. Nor is it about your career or making VP before you are thirty. Rather it is about delivering the project to the customer. Stray away from this point, and it causes trouble for all parties involved.
  4. Those older IT workers might be more tech savvy than you. It’s easy to think of older IT workers as less tech savvy especially when it becomes part of the spin to get you in the door to become a millennial manager. Somebody had to develop those technologies and even if they were directly involved they’ve watched numerous technologies develop and mature. Plus these IT workers can also afford the latest toys.
  5. You aren’t entitled to respect as a newly minted manager. Today’s stretched project teams deserve management, leadership, and people who can add more value than they takeaway. You aren’t entitled to respect because your email .sig file says manager.

The moral in these five points isn’t about millennial managers but age biases and the loss of focus that can sneak into everyday life if you aren’t careful.

There are bad managers of every age, but there is power in project teams, and good managers know how to tap into that strength to deliver projects for customers.


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