Depending on who you ask, millennials are considered either a generation of entitled, lazy, narcissists or the best generation of workers ever most poised to make a positive difference in the world. Millennials now make up the largest percentage of the workforce and are the largest generation in America so no matter where you stand it is undeniable they are going to shape the future. The question is, what do businesses look like when they are run and populated by an authority averse generation that is constantly asking “why?”
The Theory X management style that author Dennis H. Herrick characterizes to be that “the average worker prefers to be directed, avoids responsibility, has little ambition, and wants security without having to work for it” is immediately out the window for how future businesses will be managed.
Millennials don’t responds positively to the “do what I tell you or else” scare tactics that worked on the Baby Boomers. Statistics show us that millennials will simply quit their jobs if they don’t like their environment so negative reinforcement won’t do the trick. That brings us to its counterpart,Theory Y. Y flips X on its head as it suggests that works do enjoy working and get fulfillment by reaching goals. This philosophy aligns more with the type of management that millennials are more apt to thrive in, and some companies are taking it a step further by doing away with managers altogether — adopting a self managed organizational structure known as Holacracy.
According to the official website, “Holacracy is a complete, packaged system for self-management in organizations. Holacracy replaces the traditional management hierarchy with a new peer-to-peer “operating system” that increases transparency, accountability, and organizational agility.”
Holacracy shuns traditional top down hierarchy in favor of a system that acts more like a Constitutional Republic with set processes and guidelines for how things are carried out. That is to say it’s by no means flat or without hierarchy, but that the hierarchy is a fluid project and role based structure lacking vague titles and corporate divisions. Projects are led by individuals that have the most expertise and have the time to take on the task as opposed to automatically the most senior level executive, and workers may simultaneously be working under someone on one project and have that person working under them in another. The goal of Holacracy is transparency and efficiency by allowing the hired talent the freedom to be most effective.
Given millennials entitlement, ambition, and hatred of authority Holacracy may seem like the perfect business structure for this generation which is more and more companies are flocking to it.