How Millennial project managers get results without authority: Podcast

by Cornelius Fichtner

justin fraser and corneliusIn this podcastCornelius Fichtner interviews Justin Fraser about how Millennial project managers can get results without authority and the emerging relationship dynamic in which there are Millennial project managers leading senior team members. In the podcast, they discuss how times have changed, organizations have primarily focused over the last several years on helping senior staff in the workplace connect with and manage the newest generation in the workforce, Millennials. However, this new generation is now moving from entry-level to management positions. Additionally, this is frequently happening within a workplace’s evolving environment and culture. Moreover, both generations need to adapt to each other’s styles, work ethics, and perspectives.

In this podcast, Cornelius Fichtner and Justin Fraser explore topics such as differences in style, work ethic, and perspective between team members of different generations, seniority, and experience. They also touch on the various project management approaches to leading team members to a successful project.

Podcast Transcript: How Millennial Project Managers get Results without Authority


Podcast Introduction

Justin Fraser: On this episode of The Project Management Podcast™, we identify differences in style, work ethic and perspective between team members of different generations, seniority and experience.

Cornelius Fichtner: Hello and welcome to The Project Management Podcast™ at I am Cornelius Fichtner.

Podcast Interview

Cornelius Fichtner: We are coming to you live from the impressive 2017 PMI Global Conference in Chicago. And with me right now is Justin Fraser. Good morning, Justin!

Justin Fraser: Good morning! Thanks for having me. I’m really excited to be here and speak to you this morning and you got my name right, which is fantastic. Most people say something in relation…

Cornelius Fichtner: We had a small mix up before we started the interview with my questions. I pulled out the questions for a different interview.

Justin Fraser: No problem!

Cornelius Fichtner: At least I got the name right. That’s a good one!

Justin Fraser: Nailed it!

Cornelius Fichtner: Is this your first congress?

Justin Fraser: This is my third time attending a congress. This is my first time presenting.

Cornelius Fichtner: Wow! So comparing it to the previous ones, what’s the energy like this year?

Justin Fraser: I think the energy’s great! Actually every year the energy is always great. It’s a bit colder here in Chicago than in the last two years in Florida and San Diego, but this year has been fantastic. Lots of great, great talks and the keynotes are motivating and exciting. I sense some really good energy from a lot of people here.

Cornelius Fichtner: Right. Your topic is about millennials and how we are getting results without formal authority. But let me bring this back to the congress. You’re a millennial. You’re the younger generation. What brings you back here? What has the congress that it offers to you as a millennial that you say: I need to go there. This is important.

Justin Fraser: Yeah! So I’m only project manager in my company right now and this is something that is important to me because I need to see what others are doing in the industry and in the world. You know you can only take it so far with… Podcast like yours are great to learn a new tip here and there but getting face to face and hearing the talks, networking with folks at breakfast, lunch and dinner and all the other opportunities that are provided here really gives me an opportunity to talk about the challenges that I face and connect with people I have very similar challenges and build relationships with folks that can help me out even when I go back to my office and leave the congress.

Cornelius Fichtner: So the topic of your presentation is “Millennial Project Managers – Getting Results Without Formal Authority”. What’s the backstory here? What interested you? What prompted you? Why this topic?

Justin Fraser: So I started managing projects I was 20 years old. I was actually still in college. I went to Drexel University and they have an amazing program where you can go to school full time for 6 months and then you go work full time for 6 months. So I started out doing project management. I was thrown into projects with clients, deliverables, timelines and I was 20 years old. I didn’t even have a degree at that time.

So there are a lot of challenges that I had connecting with folks that when they met me, they said: “Oh, I’ve been doing this. I’ve been managing this project or this product longer than you have been alive.” “Oh, my son is your age.” Or “My kids are older than you”. You know those are some things that I would hear over and over and over again.

I think it’s an interesting topic because now I’ve been doing this for 8 or 9 years, I see other project managers coming in that that have the same kind of struggle so I wanted to get the word out and talk to some people about some strategies for connecting with people so that you can still get your work done and you can work with someone who has, it doesn’t matter how many more years of experience they have than you but you can still manage them in a way that will result in a successful project.

Cornelius Fichtner: Let’s take a step back. What is a millennial?

Justin Fraser: Ah, millennial is going to be someone who was born 1984 to maybe about 2000. So sort of the younger generation, maybe 32 to 18 or 20, somewhere around there. We tend to have different outlook on life than as any generation does.

You know you have right now in the workforce mostly Baby Boom generation then the Gen X sort of in the middle and now millennials. And coming up in the next few years, we are going to have Generation Z who are, they are about kids that are 18 or so, graduating high school right now heading into college and they are going to be entering the workforce real soon. And every generation has different styles, communication styles. They have different expectations on work-life balance, flexibility and just the way that they approach life and work in general.

So the common thread between all of those generations is you have to be able to communicate. My goal with this talk and in my day-to-day life is to figure out how to communicate, how to emphasize with someone who’s maybe just graduating high school or college or someone that has been around for 30 to 40 years doing their job.

Cornelius Fichtner: So we started out with the Baby Boomers, mid-60’s, that’s when that ends. I’m just at the tail end there. Generation X, 65 to 83. Millennials, 84 to 2000. Generation Z or for our international listeners, Generation Zed, starting at about 2000. Which of these other generations understands millennials best, other than millennials obviously?


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