Just another look at the phenomenon of this century—millenials? This one could hold the key to a successful change initiative. As the millennial generation floods the workplace and rises into management roles, change management professionals are increasingly aware of the way in which this evolution is reshaping traditional structures. The needs and work habits of millennials have become important factors in how change initiatives are implemented. The effects of generational change overlap with the principles of intentional change management, and savvy change managers are learning how to harness this transformational force. As a professional in organizational change, you may find it useful to explore a range of perspectives on the impact millennials are having on change management.

James M Kerr, 2011. Gen Y and the 2020 Organization.
“Today’s organizational designs will likely be deemed obsolete. Millennials will demand a shift away from ‘command and control’ reporting lines to more cooperative-based leadership models that provide greater autonomy and freedom of choice in how work is performed . . .The pyramid management structure that we all grew up in will slowly be replaced with a more fluid and responsive network design. A networked organizational design is the next evolutionary step for today’s ‘matrixed’ organization. In a network structure work is organized into projects, and, in turn, projects are grouped into portfolios (i.e., node in the network) of like kind. Execution of the projects within a portfolio is performed by workers who are assigned to the portfolio, in a ‘Just-In-Time’ fashion.”
Related: The Change Management Professional’s Workspace

PwC, 2011. Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace.
“In an effort to help managers to put themselves in younger employees’ shoes and to coach senior executives in IT, social media and the latest workplace trends, many organisations are pairing top management with younger employees in a programme of ‘reverse mentoring’. Workplace mentors used to be higher up the ranks (and older) than their mentees. No longer, as social media skills become increasingly valuable. Companies say another benefit is reduced turnover among younger employees, who gain a valuable glimpse into the world of management via top-level access. These programmes also help to transfer corporate knowledge to millennials, which will become increasingly important as Baby Boomers retire in greater numbers.”

Bonnie Monych, 2014. Millennials in Charge: How They’re Changing the Workplace.
“A desire for new experiences satisfies a millennial’s thirst to be challenged. It also means they don’t shy away from change. Millennials thrive on fresh goals and challenges to keep them motivated: new products, new campaigns, or a new organizational chart. And they’ll impose those desires on their employees.This could be met with an initial pushback by boomers and Gen Xers. Trying new ideas, a need for change and getting buy-in from everyone could be seen as indecisive or a lack of experience by these two groups. But millennials will dismiss it and move on. They’ll lead the march for the rest of the organization and encourage people to develop and make changes. If people don’t like change, have stagnated or failed to embrace technology, then they’ll likely be pushed out. But it’s not about age with millennials. It’s about skill set, passion, energy and excitement for the workplace.”

Dana Wilkie, 2014. Is Change Stressing Your Workers? Turn to a Millennial.
“When a merger, new computer system or remodeled office becomes so jarring that workers are growing stressed, angry and combative, Brad Karsh has five words of advice: Millennials can be your friends. In other words, said Karsh, who spoke at the 2014 Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference & Exposition, those born between 1981 and 2000 are so accustomed to adapting, comfortable around authority figures and confident about asking questions that they may be best suited to lead older workers in embracing company change. ‘Millennials have grown up changing all the time; they deal better with change, because it’s almost in their DNA,’ said Karsh, president of Chicago-based JB Training Solutions, a consultant and training company, and a Generation X-er himself. ‘

[Millennials], he said, have adapted to numerous iterations of mobile devices and computers, grew up with structured sports, camps and ‘playdates,’ and believe that no supervisory communication means they’re doing a bad job, Karsh said.'”

Ilya Skripnikov, 2016. A Millennial’s Take on Change Management.
“Millennials receive and access information on mobile devices more than any other medium. According to SDL’s research, the average millennial globally touches their smart phone 43 times a day. If a large part of the target audience consists of millennials, and mobile devices are viable as communication platforms, it may be worth employing these technologies as channels for communicating messages associated with change. Whether text, email or video, the likelihood is quite high that a millennial will see it on a mobile device.This may have multiple implications for the content as well as formatting of the messaging that is sent out (e.g. shorter, more to the point messaging with interactive features). A comprehensive mobile strategy should thus be considered when designing the communications for your change management project. Another distinguishing characteristic that may have implications for your communications approach, is that five out of six millennials in the US connect with companies via social networks. Social networks can serve as an effective platform to disseminate information, receive feedback/ suggestions, and foster discussions around issues and accomplishments.”
Related: How Will We Be Communicating Change in the Future?

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One Comment

  1. Rachel January 25, 2021 at 9:58 am

    I think millennials get a bad rap. Older generations typically view them as soft and entitled, and to some degree, I can understand. But what I’ve learned as I have trained new employees who tend to fall into that age bracket, is that they want to have meaning in their work, which is something all companies should try to capitalize on. So what does this mean for an organization? There needs to be flexibility coupled with engagement, purpose, and challenges. It was interesting that you pointed out that millennials have a desire for growth and change and that employees that are Gen X or Baby Boomers might be resistant to that. Trying to bridge that gap might be a challenge and I would love to know more about your thoughts on that. However, the fact that they are very tech-savvy and prefer to have access to information at the tap of a screen can obviously work in favor of the company and makes selecting appropriate when selecting online training software. Superiors definitely need to put themselves in the shoes of this younger generation and make it a habit. Great suggestions and very clear advice!

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