When I work with companies I pretty much know within half an hour how successful a management team will be.
To do that, I need to know three things about each individual on the team. I need to know their origins, their education, and their employment record.
The key to knowing these facts is tied to geography. If a person is born and raised in one area, and receives their college education in another area, and has a work history that takes them to yet another area, I can just about guarantee that management team’s success.
The more a company’s management team is made up of people who have separation in those three key geographic points, the greater chance a management team has of being successful.
Diversity brings two things: objectivity and a different set of experiences. The greater diversity a management team has, the more apt it is to bring new and fresh ideas to the table.
The formula Isn’t Working So Well
Of late, however, the new wave of 30 something year old managers is challenging my formula.
Demographically, this new group is called Millennials. They were born between 1980 and 2000. And they are acutely more different than any preceding group I’ve ever worked with as a management consultant.
My formula has been reliable for 25 years, but with this new age group, it doesn’t work as well.
For example Millennials vacation in different areas, but they usually don’t live in different areas from where they were born. In fact, it’s a little weird. Many of them still live at home with their parents.
They aren’t more educated than preceding generations, far from it, yet they are very much in touch with different cultures. They are worldly in the sense that they hold few prejudices.
Oddly enough, I’ve found them to be pretty good management team members.
They’re not afraid to state their opinions and take positions. This quality is an absolute necessity for a management team tasked with planning its company’s future.
Millennials are not intimidated by the presence of older more senior managers. In fact, they’re inclusive. They’re relaxed around people, irrespective of age, color, gender, sexual orientation, title, or position in the hierarchy. In fact I’m not sure they even know what an organizational hierarchy is. To them the world is flat, and everyone on it is equal, equal, equal.
In my opinion it’s probably because they are the first generation who knows nothing else but the Internet. This is the defining quality making them so different from past generations. They believe life is a matter of staying constantly in touch – with a LOT of people.
A never ending exchange of information takes place seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They sleep only to rejuvenate themselves in order to continue their digital interaction with athletes, celebrities, foreigners, bosses, parents, friends, etc. You name it. They’re carrying on.
They’re not known for engaging in one on one phone calls. This limits their ability to communicate with hundreds if not thousands of people simultaneously through tweeting, instagraming, facebooking, etc.
As management team members I find their information relevant and timely, if you can hold their attention long enough to communicate in something so archaic as an actual meeting with people sitting around a table.
Time To Change My Formula
Bob Dylan’s words are true even today, especially today. “The times they are a changin.”
I wouldn’t go so far as to say we have given birth to a new species of humans. But the Millennials are as different a group of people as I have worked with professionally. They don’t fit my formula for success. That’s because my formula is probably outdated. They may be a bit narcissistic and laid back, but I have found them insightful in understanding consumer trends.
They may take hundreds and hundreds of photos of themselves, but they blend in well as a management team member. They’re comfortable enough with themselves to not be afraid to make mistakes when strategic directions for a business are being discussed and weighed.
The irony is, in the past I’ve looked for geographic separation as a key factor for management success. The Millennials on the other hand are everywhere all the time without having to move anywhere.