By Jim Wong, CPA | April 27, 2016

“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” —Kakuzo Okakaura

Let’s face it. There are two main revolutions sweeping through the corporate world today—the hard-to-keep-up-with advances in technology and the hard-to-keep-up-with millennial generation.

Now, both of those disruptors—albeit positive—on their own are enough to frazzle the older-generations, especially within leadership, but when you combine the two, and at the same time, they can cause quite a stir in the workplace.

There’s no argument that this conundrum is happening across many professions, accounting, finance, operations—you name it. However, I’d go out on a limb to say that information technology, specifically, might be facing some of the toughest challenges of all. As more and more millennials enter the workforce, IT managers and leaders will become more and more responsible for the growth and success of both of these influencers.

For the sake of staying on topic, I won’t go into the fact that many millennials are already in leadership roles. You can read more about my thoughts on that topic in an older blog. What I am going to discuss is how millennials are directly affecting IT leadership’s processes and practices in such a way that they’re making them rethink their strategy to keep up with the times.

I recently saw an article on that discussed the impact millennials are having on IT leadership when it comes to technology and the training of that technology. I think it’s safe to say that these challenges can be applied across many other professions, as well, including accounting and finance.

So, how exactly is this younger generation testing their older leadership?

I’ve compiled a list below of 4 Ways Millennials are Challenging IT Leadership based off of the aforementioned article and a few thoughts of my own.

1. Requesting shorter, more frequent training sessions.
There are many new technological advances getting implemented across businesses, and managers and leaders need to have training to implement those changes. However, many IT managers and leaders like to get all of that done in one fell swoop—which is not the way most millennials’ best get acclimated to change. Because the younger generation prefers faster and quicker outcomes, they generally prefer shorter but more frequent training sessions. Identifying this difference and looking to implement it in such a way can really benefit IT management and leadership in the long run.

2. Wanting to start small.
No matter the age, most professionals know that change of any kind can be problematic. That’s why millennials like to test out major changes with small pilot groups that can learn the information first and then share it with the other team members. If a small subset of young professionals learn the ins and outs of new technologies, software and systems, and then are able to teach the information in a way that can be easily understood and implemented by their peers, will most likely lead to a more productive and efficient outcome.

3. Looking for more intuitive tools.
Since most millennials have grown up with technology and social media from an early age, most are already familiar with a lot of the technologies that exist in the workplace. If they come across outdated or slow-to-run systems, they’ll often pushback on leadership, wanting improved and newer technology. Additionally, millennials want things that are intuitive—as many Google products are. Therefore, gone are the days of Lotus or other older tools. If you want your millennial team members to be truly productive, give them the resources they’ll be most happy to use.

4. Craving empowerment.
Given the high cost of new technology and systems getting introduced each day, you might think it’s not advantageous for IT management and leadership to give in to all of the demands of the younger generation. However, the article states, “Employees equipped with the right tools—the technologies with which they are accustomed to working—tend to be the most productive and effective employees.” This can really mean that giving millennials upfront not only what they want but what they expect, can positively impact the bottom line in the long run. Further, besides supplying millennials with the tools they need to succeed, giving them the autonomy and leadership development they also crave is the type of empowerment they ultimately want to receive from their managers and leaders.

What are some other ways millennials are challenging IT leadership? Comment below and let us know!

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