Millennials in Authority
Michel Foucault once said that the legitimisation of power facilitates the recognition of authority. The incumbent generation of millennials has suddenly begun to both undertake roles of authority and equally work adequately under their superiors. A common thread amongst the workforce and generation Xers is that millennials have a blatant lack of authority.
The reality is that Millennials don’t disrespect authority as a generality, in fact, the opposite is often true. Millennials instead, tend to disrespect authoritarianism. The truth is that Millennials place a great sense of value on direction, leadership, and the authority that is based on know-how and experience. But they tend to resist the type of authority that originates in a forceful or otherwise intimidatory attitude.
The interrogative aspects of Millennials mean that they are constantly asking questions of the business processes. Why should we keep doing things the way they have always been done? Why does the boss’s opinion matter more than mine? This attitude, while potentially positive, does have its disadvantages. There is a potential there to disrespect superiors if voiced poorly or very often.
Human beings tend to follow leaders who have the capacity to exercise authority with ease, and this is something the incoming millennial generation are only now becoming aware of. The most successful authority figures who will give the reason, explanation and direction, not just mundane, obligatory orders or propositional statements.
Millennials are only now becoming acclimatised to the reality of their power and authority and they are already reaping the rewards. It is a necessity that Millennials act humble around those who they only recently find themselves out ranking. The great generation of the Baby Boomers has opened up the door for millennials to take over the most important spots in companies nationwide.
The Millennial generation is forging a distinctive path into authority. While still relatively young from 18 to 35, they are overtly focused on career power. These up-and-coming individuals are destined to pursue positions of authority and power, and will do so at the expense of any externalities.
A vast proportion of millennials is un-attached to outside influences that perhaps would have inhibited their predecessors from career advancement. They have relatively less religious affiliation and are having children at a far slower rate than previous generations. This enables these new workers to have an overt amount of focus on their careers, which has put them into positions of power at an unprecedented rate.
As a result, hiring managers are prioritizing hard skills over personality to fill their job openings. 55% of managers say they focus on relevant skills above any other aspect when hiring, in comparison to only 21% who say they focus primarily on attitude in lieu of a personality. Consequently, 45% of hiring managers expect to become even more skills-focused in ten years, a reflection of the increasingly skilled millennial workforce. This is an obvious paradigm shift, given research as recent as 2013 found that soft skills were prioritised over hard skills. With this increasing focus on skills, companies are beginning to adopt new methods of hiring and managing the workforce.
As Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding states “It’s absurd that while we see a record level of job openings, millennials are struggling to find jobs and companies struggle to hire them”. This is an obvious example that millennials are aiming for extremely high positions compared to previous generations at their age.
Millennials thirst for high power positions of authority has led to a gulf in demand for the initial low paying jobs. While millennials are not concerned with a lot of the previously mentioned externalities they are concerned with the ability to have an engaging social life. The work/life balance is a key priority for millennials as a result and this year’s results reinforce that view, with 95% of respondents saying the work/life balance is “relatively important” to them and 70% saying it’s “extremely important”.
Millennials, however, have an unusually high degree of expectation from their work and are overtly irritated by a failure to progress in their employment. The expectations of this new breed of the employee are set by their experiences during competitive school years, college years and recruitment processes. Results suggest that companies need to be sure that they’re not creating unrealistic expectations that could lead to dissatisfied millennial employees.
Millennial Employees in many industries could be rewarded by results rather than the number of hours worked and allowed to decide when and where to do their work. Long hours are often encouraged and rewarded without any measure of the productivity involved.