Is your organisation doing enough to empower sandwiched managers?
Sandwiched managers, represented by Millennials born between 1981 and 1996, find themselves positioned between two distinct generations in the workforce: the older baby boomers/early Gen Xers and the younger Gen Zs.
These generations hold differing social values, beliefs, and motivations. Millennial managers face the challenging task of aligning both generations toward a common organisational purpose, necessitating the building of relationships, managing the older generation, and motivating the younger workforce to achieve business objectives.
Change initiatives on the horizon in 2024
In 2024, alongside routine business activities, organisations are introducing new change initiatives based on the last four years’ circumstances and events. These changes aim to drive sustainable revenues, protect profit margins, and deliver impactful value to customers. The changes fall into three categories:
- Customer Experience – Organisations are diving deeper to understand customers’ unmet needs, creating or enhancing current products and services.
- Technology Enabler – Organisations are experimenting with new technology to gather relevant data, creating better efficiencies and driving productivity.
- Employee Empowerment – Organisations are shifting from employee engagement to empowerment, acknowledging the changing expectations of employees who now desire trust and empowerment. Empowerment focuses on authority and agency in how individuals accomplish tasks and succeed.
Millennial managers may be assigned different change roles, such as change sponsors, change agents, or functional managers assisting their teams adapt to changes.
However, these managers face their own struggles. According to a 2020 Deloitte survey, 42% of millennial managers reported significantly high workplace tiredness and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overworked and burdened with filling open positions, these managers experienced increased stress due to lack of support, unclear communication from leadership, and unmanageable workloads.
Making empowerment an organisational priority requires a new approach to the roles millennial managers play. An empowering environment can lead to higher retention rates and profits. Gallup’s research indicates that a 10% improvement in employees’ emotional connection with their work could result in an 8.1% decrease in turnover and a 4.4% increase in company profitability. Organisations can support their sandwiched managers by enhancing their human relationship competencies in the following areas
Millennial managers need to reframe their beliefs about their role and identity as a manager. To navigate and thrive in this disruptive world, managers need to undertake inner work to shift their mindsets. This will allow them to rethink how they interact, support their teams, and lead them to the future. As managers become more self-aware, they will be more empathetic and work collectively to drive a thriving organisation that delivers impactful value.
B. Coaching personal excellence
Managers are responsible for their team’s mental health, well-being, and overall performance. They need to examine what drives performance—extrinsic or intrinsic motivation, or perhaps both? Baby boomers have generally been exposed to extrinsic motivational drivers, while Gen Z’s lean towards intrinsic drivers. Millennial managers need to be aware of both drivers and how they interplay with emotional intelligence and resilience mindsets. With greater understanding, they will be in a better position to inspire their team’s performance to meet results in a sustainable manner
C. Conversational skills
Business conversations dictate business results. Conversations affect how people act. Millennial managers are the bridge between senior leaders and individual contributors. They need to master conversational skills to align teams to shared purposes, lead teams to act on agreed plans, and hold feedback conversations for constant improvement.
“Conversation is a uniquely human kind of communication, and the education of any manager is incomplete without an accurate working knowledge of how conversations influence perception, meaning and action.” – Go Ashokh Menon
Conversation is a uniquely human kind of communication, and the education of any manager is incomplete without an accurate working knowledge of how conversations influence perception, meaning and action.
The rise of the Millennials workforce
Millennials are already the driving force in employment. By 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce, with more than half (58%) residing in Asia. Many millennial managers are motivated by a sense of purpose, as revealed in a study by American Express. That sense of purpose is driving the vanguard of millennial-aged managers.
Organisations that recognise the value of inter-generational teams and equip their key players—purpose-driven Millennial managers—with vital human relationship competencies will not only survive but will be best placed to thrive in the unpredictable future.
About the author: Go Ashokh Menon is an Agile Coach & Change Agent. He is also a licensed Authentic Leadership Conversation Facilitator and a flowprofiler® Certified Trainer at One Synergy Global.