Trucks at Work

Managers as mentors

David Ross, one of the managing directors at the transportation and logistics practice within Wall Street investment firm Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., made an interesting comment in his most recent outlook for the LTL sector the other day that frankly all trucking companies should ponder:

“Management matters: not only when it comes to operating the same trucks, people, and freight to better earnings, but also in creating and preserving a culture where people enjoy working, while being treated fairly.”

That of course shouldn’t surprise anyone for – and apologies to the great R. Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket fame – no one REALLY wants the equivalent of a Marine Drill Sergeant breathing down their neck every day either at the office or in the truck cab.

Yet the question remains: what type of management style is the most effective? That is at least in the civilian world, when bombs and bullets aren’t flying around.

To that end, professional staffing services provider Addison Group put together a survey to examine the qualities several different generations of workers – Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, and Millennials – prefer in managers, as well as how those various generations perceive the importance of the managerial role.

Conducted by the global insights firm Kelton, Addison’s survey found that the “generational makeup” of today’s workforce is becoming more complex and continuously evolving.

In particular, different life events, market circumstances and economic priorities altered the way each generation of worker has evolved, noted Addison’s CEO Thomas Moran (at right) in the group’s report.

Specifically, the manager/direct report dichotomy that exists within generations (Millennials to Millennials) as well as across generations (Boomers to Millennials) is an area of focus for employers as they work to retain top management talent and ensure collaboration regardless of age.

“The more managers can understand what Boomers, Gen X and Millennials need and want in terms of managerial style, rewards and leadership opportunities, the more successful employees can be, not to mention the benefits employers can reap from an employee retention standpoint,” Moran stressed.

Interestingly, Addison’s poll of 1,006 working Americans born between 1946 and 1995 found that while the “traditional setup” is preferred in terms of establishing a manager-to-employee hierarchy, managers who foster employee growth and well-being are preferred over those that exhibit authoritarian tendencies.

Managers in the survey said they hope to be perceived as mentors (63%), teachers (35%), supervisors (34%) and coaches (34%). Interestingly, Millennials are twice as likely to hope to be perceived as a best friend to their direct report, compared to Boomers and Gen X’ers (20% vs. 10%).

Addison’s poll also found that most workers agree that some of the most important qualities for the ideal manager include the ability to give honest feedback (63%) and trust them (56%). Many also note an ideal manager makes time for them (37%), is collaborative (36%) and has experience in their field (58%).

Here’s an interesting finding regarding Millennials, who will be the majority generation in the workforce by 2015: some 70% of the workers polled by Addison prefer to oversee someone younger than themselves.

And although 76%of Millennials said they are hesitant to manage a colleague who is older than they are, Millennials remain “eager” in Addison’s analysis to lead. Members of this age group are particularly apt to display some level of interest or excitement in being a manager (82% vs. 57% of other age groups).

To attract new candidates to an organization while retaining top talent, Addison’s recommends that employers should work to create an environment that encourages career development and collaboration.

Based on its survey, the firm added that professional development opportunities are a top consideration for employees in the job search today, and managers are expected to play a role in the process.

“For businesses, it’s important to ensure managerial staff is trained to foster professional and career growth for employees,” said Moran. “This is especially crucial for Millennial employees, who value a manager’s role in their professional development more than other age groups (36% vs. 26%).”

Indeed, Addison found that nearly a third (29%) of all workers tie their professional growth to having a manager.

Something to keep in mind as the hunt for new recruits across the trucking industry continues.

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