Millennials Hate Bosses,
Here’s What to Do

By 2020 about 40% of the workforce will be millennials. And guess what? They don’t like bosses. In fact, most of them want to be their own boss. If you doubt this, Google it or hit up any popular social media platform.

Antipathy toward management isn’t exactly a new phenomenon for younger generations. But this group’s views perhaps represent a new, more evolved perspective on the theme. The haters call them “lazy.” But, really, the characteristics that describe this generation maybe the best are high functional and creative.

Growing up with information accessible in a nano-second at their itchy fingertips, they’re highly knowledgeable (excuse me while I Google a supporting fact) and resourceful. Millennials don’t need to sit in hourlong meetings listening to a blowhard boss blabber about something they could figure out in 0.13 seconds on their own.

A frothy 72% of millennials want to be their own boss, according to the employment consulting firm, Intelligence Group. And they’re not afraid to jump from job to job until they find a suitable environment that includes a tolerable boss. This flightiness could be viewed as a major risk for your business or an opportunity to snag some enormously talented workers.

Here’s an abbreviated tip sheet for keeping your high performers from getting bored and wandering off to the next gig.

Ditch the old hierarchical model

Over the past 10 years organizations are getting flatter. That means fewer bosses, especially in middle management. Hey, the millennials really are driving change!

As consulting firm Deloitte explains, the organizations that will win in the future are not ones with the traditional hierarchical organizational structure. This Bersin study showed that only 14% of business execs believe a traditional hierarchy based on specific expertise makes their organization highly effective. “Instead, leading companies are pushing toward a more flexible, team-centric model,” Josh Bersin writes.

The business victors of the future will be centered on teams collaborating to work on high-value work that business executives have made transparent across the organization.

Involve them in something BIG

Another thing about millennials: they see a solution that could improve an ordinary person’s daily life and they dive in to develop a solution. Consider the millions of apps that have been created over the past few years. How many do you think were created by baby boomers?

The point is that this generation wants to feel like their work matters, that its contributing something valuable to the world. This isn’t a group too anxious about lining up to do some menial task on an assembly line. Show them the higher purpose and you will grab their attention.

One millennial posted an Open Letter to Management: Why Millennials Keep Dumping You on LinkedIn that went viral. One of the missive’s main points is that things like ROI, stock price, billing, revenue, and expenses aren’t enough for her.

“You say I’ll get a raise in a year if the company hits a certain number? So what?,” she writes. “I need something to care about today. Talk to me about how we make a difference.”

Millennials need to stretch

Did we mention millennials easily get bored? Without an intellectual challenge they’re likely to disengage. Gallup pegs the generation’s engagement level at work at less than 30%, lower than previous generations. This could be catastrophic for businesses when millennials take over in a few years – Gallup estimates that they’ll be 75% of the workforce by 2025.

Give them stretch assignments that stimulate their imagination and open new perspectives about how their work is making a positive contribution. Encourage cross-functional teamwork where diverse opinions and skills are shared working toward common objectives. Provide real-time feedback when they step out and try something new. Reward creativity and risk-taking.

Make it a game

Millennials like games. Games feature points, scorecards and winners. Whether it’s fantasy football, a March Madness bracket or a scoreboard at work, nothing motivates like a real-time view at where you stand and a clear playbook to win. This is what you get with MyObjectives, a workplace nirvana for millennials.

MyObjectives players set S.M.A.R.T. objectives linked to the goals established by business leaders. They receive real-time feedback in their quest to hit the success zone each business quarter, winning digital badges and other rewards along the way. The biggest endorphin rush comes toward the end of the quarter when teams are rallying to make the final push toward victory. Check it out here.

The app also destroys the outdated hierarchical mode of management, energizes your teams around the important things your business stands for, and gives employees an opportunity to stretch their skills.

And just maybe our app could change your millennials’ minds about hating their boss.

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Paul Niven

Paul Niven is a management consultant, an author and a public speaker on the subjects of corporate strategy and performance management systems, like the Balanced Scorecard.

Ben Lamorte

Ben Lamorte is the founder and president of He advises business leaders on the best methods for defining and making measurable progress on their most important goals.

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