The old generation gap between top managers and new recruits. The saga continues.
This time, it stems from the Millennial complain that Baby Booms are simply not very good communicators, particularly in an official setting. And you know what? I have to give it to Gen Y on this one.
Gen-X seems to have been raised during a time where hierarchal structures were all the rage. Everyone knew that there was a top management and a scary CEO in a polished suit and tie who sat in the grand office suite on the top floor. But somehow, not a lot of people were allowed in that suite. Heck, perhaps some of the new kids would never even get to see this mysterious man in a suit in person. All they knew about him was that he signed their paychecks every month and sent someone to conduct quarterly reviews. Those reviews were mostly bad… it was their one chance to point out everything you were doing wrong and appreciate nothing you were doing right.
But times have changed and Millennial run organizations are nothing of that sort. The organizational structures tend to be flatter. They employ a work hard, play hard ethic, they sit on their bean bags and they work in one room. They celebrate when they finally get office chairs. The General Manager looks around for an empty seat and sits next to the new programmer guy. The Managing Director huffs and groans as he realizes some kid from the design team has stolen his chair yet again.
The difference between these two scenarios is very simple:
In the Gen-X style of organization, there is a lot of centralization. There invisible boundaries that exist at every level of management. The juniors have probably never even met the seniors. The employees at the lower ends of the hierarchies are like the Oompa Loompas that have to work away, getting the occasional command from Willy Wonka to know there is about to be a change in the direction. There is no two way communication. There are only commands.
In the Millennial style organizations, people work together as a given. Roles are well defined, but people don’t take power trips over their title. Everyone realizes that every single member of the organization makes the confluence. That the junior programmer is just as important as the GM and that there is an open line of communication between the two.
Here’s an infographic from 15 Five that explains it all:
So what’s it going to be, Gen-X managers?
Are you going to continue to be authoritative and commanding?
Or are you ready to accept that the flow of the water has changed?
If you’re smart—and I’m assuming that you are—you’ll start giving up the old and tired ways of secrecy and information withholding and start practicing the openness and creativity of the young ones. You’ve got to move forward, after all, haven’t you?