An IT Management Nightmare: Managing Trophy Kids

by drjim on March 12, 2009

Managing The Millennial Generation Will Require New IT Manager Skills

Managing The Millennial Generation Will Require New IT Manager Skills

Remember that Jack Nicholson line from the movie that was made from the Steven King book “The Shining”:  “.. Here’s Johnny…“? I seem to recall that he delivers this line as he stands at a door with an axe in his hands trying to break into the bathroom. I suspect that many IT managers feel as though they are trapped in that bathroom and the millennial generation is on their way in.

Ron Alsop who writes for the Wall Street Journal has taken some time to study what this arrival means for all of us (hopefully no axes involved) and he’s written a book with his answers in it called The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace. He’s got some suggestions on just how to go about managing this new type of IT worker.

The first thing that needs to be realized is that the millennial generation is going to want much more attention and guidance from IT Leaders. This may come off as arrogant behavior, but it’s not. The millennials got so much affirmation and positive feedback when they were growing up that when they enter the workplace they come across as being needy.

Unfortunately this need for more guidance goes hand-in-hand with the fact that millennials generally don’t take suggestions for improvement very well. Blame this on their parents. IT managers are going to have to  still deliver the good with the bad, but they are going to have to be careful to focus more on the good stuff.

Millennials are an interesting mix when it comes to doing work. They are used to having precise guidelines (“rules”) that establish a structured situation with provides them with the order that they so desperately need.

However, at the same time millennials want a flexible work environment that allows them to balance their work and personal lives. A good way of thinking of this is that they don’t view work as a place you go, rather work is something that you do.

All of this is enough to make an IT manger long for the old days when he / she was an individual contributor. However, their is an upside to all of this. The millennials have a solid grasp of cutting edge technology – it is a part of their life outside of work. They tend to work very well in teams and they get along well with baby boomers because they remind them so much of their own parents.

You’ve got hard workers here who will get the job done as long as an IT Leader points them in the right direction. That’s why YOU are the IT Leader.

Do you have millennials in your IT workplace (are you one of them)? How is is it going so far – smooth running or choppy waters? Do you feel that their (your) expectations are in line with what the company can offer? When the economy improves, do you think that they’ll stick around or will they leave? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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