Millennial Managers Seen as ‘Entitled’
Like your new, young, manager?
If you said no, you’ve got lots of company.
Generation Y managers are widely perceived as entitled, and score significantly lower as hard-working team players in newly released research from EY, the global firm that includes Ernst & Young LLP.
That’s especially striking since members of Gen Y, or the millennial generation, which EY defines as people aged 18 to 32, are moving into management at a rapid pace. Some 87 percent of Gen Y managers in the EY survey took on a new management role, between 2008 and 2013, compared with 38 percent of Gen X managers and just 19 percent of those aging baby boomer managers.
Gen Y workers, including managers, now make up about a third of the U.S. workforce, according to Karyn Twaronite, EY’s Americas inclusiveness officer. And at EY itself, which hires thousands of young recruits every year, Twaronite says the workforce is almost two-thirds Gen Y.
So if 68 percent of that age cohort is perceived as “entitled and concerned primarily about individual promotion,” as the EY survey found, that’s an issue.
Entitled workers, those who feel they are owed things from their organization and that their excellence is a given, are less likely to lead teams effectively and advocate for subordinates.
A 2010 study by Paul Harvey, then an assistant professor of management at the University of New Hampshire, found that entitled employees are more likely to feel frustrated on the job and to lash out at colleagues.
“The frustration experienced by entitled workers appears to stem from perceived inequities in the rewards received by co-workers to whom psychologically entitled employees feel superior,” Harvey said.
Part of Gen Y’s management problem may just be inexperience. The next older cohort, Gen X, ages 33 to 48, were perceived as the strongest managers by 70 percent of survey respondents, Twaronite said.
“That’s even more than boomers,” Twaronite said. “Only 5 percent said Gen Y was prepared to lead.”
But if managers think this is something that will simply fix itself, they are mistaken, she said.
“I would caution companies from thinking this is generational gibberish,” Twaronite said. “There is a real shift.”
She thinks companies need to be helping their Gen Y managers develop more positive management qualities.
Fewer than half of Gen Y members expect to be working standard office hours five to 10 years from now.
The good news is that Gen Y members are perceived as tech savvy, and smart about ways to leverage social media. They are also seen as inclusive leaders who display what EY calls “‘diversity” skills, or the ability to build culturally competent teams.”
And they come across as enthusiastic and adaptable, qualities that may help them shift gears so that in a future survey, fewer than the current 36 percent of respondents may say they are hard to work with.
Gen Y members are also quite ambitious. Twaronite points out that they view promotions as a perk more highly than their older counterparts—and Gen Y women value them more than Gen Y men.
“It really demonstrates that the next generation of women leaders are really serious about their careers,” she said.
Looking further ahead, there may be even more good news. “I have read in the research that the generation coming up behind Gen Y will tend to be much more conservative,” Twaronite said. They appear to be less likely to change jobs as often, for example.
If they can get that entitlement thing under control, that will really be something to anticipate.