A generational look at open management | Opensource.com

A generational look at open management

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Whether you're a newly appointed manager or a weathered veteran, one thing's for certain: when it comes to leading the workforce of the future, the times they are a-changin'. The ability (and willingness) to understand and adapt to the new paradigms of working will separate the good managers from the great managers, and both from the clueless ones.

Whether you prefer the term "Generation Y", "Millennials", or "The Facebook Generation", it's clear that the new crop of fresh faces entering the corporate world think and behave in a way that is much different than the preceding generation. Loosely defined as those born between the mid-1970's and the early 2000's, Millennials have much higher expectations of their work experience and their employer, resulting in a much higher frequency in job switching than earlier generations. They are far more technically proficient and rely on electronic means of communication. They seek more feedback, responsibility, and involvement in decision making. Oh, and those elements of transparency, collaboration, trust, and respect that we espouse here on opensource.com? Yeah, those things are all highly important to them too.

So what are you doing to evolve into a leader that this generation will want to follow? When's the last time you had a management makeover? What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow, so it's highly important to update your leadership skills in the face of these changing dynamics.

Where to start? Get informed. I've rounded up a few of my favorite recent readings on this topic and summarized them below. Do you have anything to add to the list? Let us know via the comments.


Letting Gen Y Lead a Management Makeover, Vineet Nayar, HBR, 2/16/11

In this recent Harvard Business Review post, CEO and MIX Maverick Vineet Nayar wonders what the future might look like if we let our Gen Y employees reinvent the companies for which they work. In his post, Nayar notes many of the entries for the HCL MBA M-Prize (organized in conjunction with the MIX – entries still open), in which MBA students submit their ideas for shaping the organization of the future.

Of particular interest? "The Organization Structure as Free Market", a proposal by a team from IMD Business School in Switzerland to deep-six the traditional org chart and let each employee choose his or her own manager. Meritocratic management, perhaps?


The Facebook Generation vs. the Fortune 500, Gary Hamel, opensource.com, 9/22/10

Right here on opensource.com, management guru Gary Hamel has articulated his belief that the expectations that members of the Facebook Generation (or, "Generation F") have placed upon their work experiences (and employers) has been shaped by their experiences growing up in an online digital world. He outlines 12 characteristics of online life that are second nature to our next generation of managers: meritocracy of ideas, cultures of collaboration, natural hierarchies and self-organizing groups are just a few. Professor Hamel's post is worthy of a second (or third) read.


Do we get less creative as we age?, Stephen Shapiro, Blogging Innovation, 8/31/10

Shapiro's post isn't so much about managing Millennials, but it's an interesting take on our ability to remain creative leaders as we get older. Shapiro contends that, as our knowledge and experience increases over time, our ability to be creative suffers. It's a fascinating read about knowledge and imagination ... or, more accrurately, knowledge versus imagination. Must one come at the expense of the other?


How IT will change when Gen Y runs the show, Mary K. Pratt, Reuters, 8/23/10

Computerworld's Pratt provides one of the most insightful posts on this topic, in large part due to its direct quotes from (and insights into the mind of) twentysomethings and the corporate recruiters actively trying to figure out how to woo them. Both emphasize the importance of communities, openness, lack of hierarchy, non-traditional mobility (both upwards and sideways), flexible work arrangements, frequent "bite-sized" promotions, and access to senior leaders to attracting millennial talent.


How Millennials' Sharing Habits Can Benefit Organizations, Andrew McAfee, HBR, 8/23/10

In our Facebook and Twitter age, millennials default to sharing and self-revelation more often than not. This is in strong opposition to the more private members of Gen X, who don't always subscribe to the notion of "release early, release often". But is this a fad among the younger generation? Something they will outgrow as they mature and move up in the corporate world?

Data shows this might not be the case. In fact, the upside of sharing might prove to be too valuable to change behavior. "There are too many benefits to living with a certain degree of openness for Digital Natives to 'grow out of it.' Job opportunities, new personal connections, professional collaboration, learning from others' experiences, etc., are all very powerful benefits to engaging openly with others online, and this is something that Gen Y understands intuitively", according to a senior NPR research analyst in McAfee's post.

HBR's McAfee has authored several insightful posts on the generational considerations of management, including Gen Y's Most Perilous Trait? (HBR, 9/14/10) and Two Common Mistakes of Millennials at Work (HBR, 8/30/10).

About the author

John Adams - As Red Hat's resident Brand Manager, John Adams strives to both protect and advance the Red Hat brand every day.