NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Older employees managed by Millennials may frequently feel misunderstood, but there are definite advantages once you learn their management style. If you're a Boomer with a Gen-Y boss, here are five things you should never do.
1. Don't expect lengthy face-to-face meetings.
Millennial managers are good at keeping it brief, and are more likely to check in with their employees via text or email than via lengthy in-person meetings, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half.
"They know Boomers are used to getting very direct communication. They know they don't have to candy-coat it, that they can be direct and honest," McDonald says. "So they may quickly check in and say, 'Hey, I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page,' and that will be it."
With that said, most Millennial managers have been warned about communicating exclusively via email with older employees and make it a point to set aside time for in-person check-ins, says Jay Meschke, president of human resources solutions firm CBIZ Human Capital Services.
"Even though the Boomer might give off the feeling that they don't need to be checked-in on regularly, a good manager is always going to set aside some time every month to meet," Meschke says.
2. Don't assume all emails and texts are urgent.
Just because your Millennial boss is emailing you after hours doesn't mean they need a response right away, Meschke says.
"If an email goes out at 11 p.m., do they really expect a response at 11:05? Maybe in investment banking, sure, but they may be perfectly content with you responding the next day," he says.
Millennial managers aren't big believers in traditional 9-to-5 working hours, but they also respect family and personal time, says Skip Weisman, workplace communication expert and founder of YourChampionshipCompany.com.
"It could be that your boss doesn't need you to respond. Maybe he just wanted to get that item out of his inbox so he sent it your way. Your impression may be, 'If I don't respond, I'm in trouble,' but that's an assumption. Have a conversation around the expectations for working weekends and the speed of after-hours replies," Weisman says.
3. Don't think you need to be in the office all the time.
Boomers came up during a time when work was a central, physical location and remote options weren't available, McDonald says.
"Working from home was viewed as an exception for Boomers, while it's more the norm for Millennials," he says. "Millennials understand the importance of being friendly to employees' personal lives."
If you need to take a day and work from home or leave early for a personal commitment, more than likely it will be just fine with your Gen-Y boss. Flexible schedules and remote working options are a part of most progressive organizations today and are often a top concern for Millennial managers.
"They may be working a 9 a.m.-to-9 p.m schedule, but they don't assume that their employees are going to be available for a 7:30 p.m Skype meeting. It's common sense," he says.
4. Don't expect them to revere "the way things have always been done."
"Sometimes Boomers can get frustrated and resentful thinking, 'I have been here forever, I know how things work, and I know how things should be done,'" Weisman says. "People don't like change and they hold onto those things, but that kind of thinking is only going to make it more difficult for you to bond with your boss."
If you feel your manager is actually making mistakes in his or her role, you may want to communicate some institutional knowledge in a non-confrontational way.
"You can say, 'Well, this is the way we've done things in the past. Can you give me a sense of how you'd like to do things moving forward so I can determine what I need to do?'" Weisman suggests.
5. Don't expect them to treat you any differently than they do younger employees — and that's a good thing!
While Boomers may not take a job because the office has a pool table and rooftop cabanas, they can take advantage of these perks all the same.
"Boomers aren't going to care about the toys. They would value being able to work from home on a Friday more than they would value a game room," Weisman says. "But in many cases you don't have to choose — Millennial managers are going to offer both of those things."
Most Gen-Y supervisors are more focused on the results of the employee than they are face time in the office.
"They're defining the results the job needs to create, then they're giving employees autonomy and saying, 'Go ahead and get this job done however you see fit.' They understand that you can be at a desk for eight hours and still not be productive," Weisman says.
Millennials are usually fans of team-building exercises and get-togethers outside of regular work hours. While Boomers shouldn't feel obligated to attend every function, they should make an effort to participate every now and then.
"If I have family, chances are I would prefer to be with them eating dinner at 6:30 as opposed to being out at happy hour with a bunch of 25-year-olds, but if you want to build some camaraderie and team spirit, then go for a couple of hours," he says. "These things aren't mandatory, but you will be missing out."
Follow Kathryn Tuggle on Twitter @KathrynTuggle