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Inaugural HKBU Business Power Lunch shed light on millennial management

24 Sep, 2018
img The HKBU School of Business hosted the inaugural HKBU Business Power Lunch for business leaders on Thursday 20th September. The inaugural topic was how baby boomer managers lead millennial employees. The event was well attended by senior executives and HR practitioners, with a lively and fruitful discussion.

Prof. Ed Snape, Dean of the School of Business, welcomed guests, “Faculty members in the School are working on research topics of practical relevance, and the aim of the Business Power Lunch is to provide stimulating discussion and refreshing insights, drawing on the research findings of our business professors.”

Themed “Age of Entitlement: Generational Clash between Baby Boomers and Millennials”, the presentation by Prof. Xu Huang, Associate Dean (Research & Postgraduate Studies) and Head of the Department of Management, presented a series of research studies of international researchers and his own team. The research findings challenged many managers’ and HR practitioners’ stereotypes against millennial employees.

Baby boomer managers perceive their millennial employees as having high levels of entitlement, i.e., they think they deserve greater rewards without necessarily putting in high levels of effort. Prof. Huang found, however, that this is the age of entitlement, as both millennials and non-millennials have high levels of entitlement. People in powerful positions are more likely to develop psychological entitlement, and managers with high levels of entitlement are more likely to view their millennial employees as having high levels of entitlement. These projection effects may explain the stereotypical assessments of millennials.

To effectively manage millennial employees, Prof. Huang recommended baby boomer managers implement directive-achieving leadership in three steps: controlling and regulating by insisting that employees strictly follow work standards and regulations, training and instructing by supervising how they prioritise and get the job done, and demanding achievement and high performance. Millennials may not be as weak and entitled as the stereotypes suggest, and they may actually appreciate a tough management style.

The presentation was followed by lively discussions among guests and scholars, sharing on the practical implications for the workplace.

The HKBU Business Power Lunch is a biannual occasion for School of Business scholars to share latest research insights with managers and practitioners. More research insights from the School of Business are available here.
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