Millennial Managers’ Communication Styles

When it comes to communicating with their direct reports, millennials (those born between 1981-1996) much prefer to do it via their computers or smartphones rather than in person or via their office phone (remember that old thing?).

That’s according to a new Korn Ferry survey of about 1,500 professionals. Fifty five percent said online messaging is the most common way for millennial managers to communicate with their direct reports, followed by email at 28 percent. Only 14 percent said their favored way to communicate is in person, and just 3 percent said via phone.

Not surprisingly, this can have negative ramifications for organizational culture.

“While online messaging and email are effective, efficient tools, face-to-face communication is needed to create an inclusive culture,” says Samantha Wallace, Korn Ferry Futurestep’s North American market leader for technology.

Many of their colleagues agree: When asked what they wish their millennial bosses would do more of, the largest percentage of survey participants chose face-to-face communications, followed by keeping their bosses informed, at 27 percent. The top response for what millennial bosses do best was creating flexibility in the workplace (65 percent).

Older generations tend to view millennial managers as less-hardworking: 70 percent of respondents say Generation X and baby boomer bosses believe they work harder than their millennial colleagues (not surprising, given that these folks probably spent their childhoods walking to and from school uphill during snowstorms).

That’s not to say that others view millennial managers as undeserving: 75 percent said they believe millennial bosses have earned their role.

Despite their nontraditional ways, younger managers can still teach their older colleagues a thing or two.

“They may not approach management the same way as bosses from different generations, but instead of fighting change, adapting to the dynamic culture millennials bring will help companies succeed,” says Wallace.

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.