Thursday 12, October 2017 by Jessica Combes

Digital transformation spurs the rise of the GCC’s millennial manager movement


As generational monikers go, the term ‘Millennial’ often rouses mixed opinions, writes Hazel Jackson, CEO of Biz Group.

For a start, its very definition is clouded. The most commonly accepted birth timeframe for Millennials is anyone born between the early 1980s and the middle-to-late 1990s. Perhaps a simpler way to summarise this Generation Y is anyone born after Generation X but before the year 2000–the last millennium milestone.

Also known as Echo Boomers on account of being the children of the post-WWII Baby Boomers, one thing about Millennials is cast in stone: as a demographic cohort, this over-20 and under-35 societal group is increasingly finding itself thrust into positions of corporate and industry power. And with its generational prevalence for all things digital, the millennial manager is here to stay.

Millennials will constitute 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025 and, in the MENA region, 40 per cent of the total population is under the age of 25, right in the middle of the Millennials’ bracket. In Dubai alone, 50.9 and 51.7 per cent of the emirate’s total male and female workforce in 2016 respectively was between 20-34 years old, according to Dubai Statistics Centre.

But what challenges are Millennials facing as they climb the professional ladder? Ironically, those created by the very people they are replacing in positions of authority, according to the latest data from Dubai-based Biz Group - the leading corporate training, teambuilding and employee engagement solutions agency.

Millennials are moving into positions of authority and we’re seeing increasing clashes in leadership styles. When an emboldened younger generation that prefers a communicative and teamwork-centric approach to management goes head-to-head with a more individualistic, bottom-line and confrontational style of management preferred by older leaders, there is an inevitable clash of ideas.

It’s more important than ever before–especially as regional firms confront this era of digital transformation where Millennials truly come to the fore–for yesterday’s leaders to impart proper management skills to future leaders. The fusion of traditional management techniques and a new style of millennial management is the optimum desired outcome for businesses and their teams.

According to a recent global study by Future Workplace, 83 per cent of surveyed respondents said they have millennial managers in the office, while nearly 50 per cent of older respondents, over 55 years old, believe millennials are ‘ill-equipped’ to manage teams.

“There is definitely a battle to win respect,” believes Jonathan Calvert, a 35-year-old British expat who assumed a General Manager role for Dubai-based Flow Solutions in his early 30s. “You obviously have to earn respect; it is not a given or immediate. It takes time to earn that respect in terms of how an older generation respond to you and believe in your abilities.”

The dynamic, however, works both ways, adds Calvert. “Generally speaking, I’ve found that older people working in Dubai, perhaps one or two generations older than myself, tend to be in it for themselves. Perhaps it’s an age thing, a certain point in their careers, but they sometimes do not buy into the vision of a company as eagerly as younger employees. Due to experience, the older generation are more set in their ways and they’re not really looking at where they will be in 10 years. It’s more a case of what the business owes them now. It’s a job, a salary;they’re not necessarily buying into that long-term vision. If two candidates are equal and only separated by age, I would probably employ the younger, often single, candidate over a married veteran with dependents because I know I have years of ambition to tap into.”

With a bespoke suite of curated learning journeys, Biz Group is offering a solution to many regional businesses’ old-meets-new dilemma with a tailored programme of holistic training experiences designed to maximise learners’ retention, link learning to work and provide tangible results for the business.

Delivered through a combination of face-to-face workshops, virtual learning circles, brain science-based reinforcement, work-based assignments, coaching, digital learning, on-demand content and gamification, our learning journeys are carefully constructed so that the experience is relevant for the individual learner, no matter their age, and the overall business.

The age of people working in the UAE is definitely dropping, even though traditional industries–such as oil and gas–still have a generally older workforce. New industries emerging in the UAE tend to be run and staffed by a younger, digitally-savvy demographic and everyone is looking to monetise the new digital era. There is a culture shift happening and businesses need to be prepared now or risk falling behind.


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