Ask the Experts: How Best to Manage Up When You are a Millennial
As a Millennial PM, how best to manage the generations prior to the Millennial? The poor performers in my design firm are Generation X and older. They don’t keep up with or respond to e-mails from upper management or clients and they constantly fail to review meeting minutes.
I am quantifying low performance as: avoidable change orders, hours billed exceeding average percentages, and recurring design errors. When I express my desire to replace them to my direct superior (who is also not a Millennial) the response I receive is that it is difficult to train another person and the odds of finding better people are low. Any advice?
“As the leader within an organization, you get what you tolerate,” says Tim Griffin, P.E., MBA, LEEP AP, author of Lattes, Puppies, and Unlimited Vacation: Attracting, Retraining, and Empowering Millennial Design Firm Professionals. “Since the firm tolerated bad behavior, you can’t expect change to occur by itself.”
“And if it’s tolerated with Gen X and older workers, it will trickle down to the Millennials on your staff. Since replacing the ‘bad actors’ doesn’t seem like a realistic option, your goal should be to correct the behavior by example and by education.”
Griffins admits, “You’re in a difficult position, because you’re ‘leading up’: in other words, you’re trying to get the people above you in the organization to adopt change to operate in the right way. I highly recommend you read The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization by John Maxwell.
“The book lays out a number of strategies for creating positive change when you’re working in the middle of the organization. Maxwell advises establishing strong relationships with those you are working for and those who work for you. Start by listening to your co-workers to find out what is important to them. You can use this knowledge to understand their priorities and goals, thereby earning their trust. From there, you’ll be in a better position to lead them to adopting the work habits and methods you would like to see.”