The last few months have been interesting. It seems that everywhere I go there is a discussion about Millennials. From who is a Millennial to how to best deal with them? I have also been receiving calls asking whether we offer training on how to “deal” with Millennials. This is definitely a generation that is disrupting the system.
I can’t remember a time where a generation has been such a topic of conversation. This past weekend, my family came over for brunch. This was a group of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials, a couple in their 20s and three others in their mid to late 30s. The conversation around Millennials came up again as I was asking them what their thoughts were on the topic. Interestingly enough, the 30-somethings did not see themselves as Millennials, even though they are in the Millennial category born between 1981-1997. It was as if they did not want to associate with being a Millennial.
Their viewpoint was that they were gainfully employed, not living with their parents and responsible adults. Millennials to the 30-somethings were the 20-somethings that did not hold a steady job and had not yet grown up. For the 20-something couple, it did not seem to affect them that this was a perception of their generation. Their viewpoint was that just because they were not working 8 to 5, it did not necessarily mean they were irresponsible and what was the problem with living with your parents when you are 25?
I was fascinated by the discussion. In looking further into it, I came to realize that there are two facets to the Millennial Generation. The 30-something and the 20-something. They have slightly different approaches to jobs, technology, idealisms. However, the more I look into it, the more I realized that they have more in common than they even realize.
Why is it that there is a perception of Millennials as entitled, narcissistic and overall a “lost” generation?
In looking deeper into studies, Ted Talks and different publications, I realized that Millennials just have a different approach and a different perception of the world that generations before them. It is an approach that is foreign to Generation Xers and Baby Boomers.
Millennials are comfortable taking their time to “grow up”. Their parents are their friends and their cheerleaders. They believe that because of the available technology they can work flexibly anytime, anyplace and that they should be evaluated on work product, not necessarily how, when or where they got it done. They expect to influence the terms and conditions of the job. They want long-term relationships with employers but make no mistake, they prefer to be on their own terms.
They do not believe you necessarily have to work 10 hours a day. They want to work for companies that feel like a movement. Companies that are making a difference in the world. Companies with a cause are more attractive to Millennials. They want meaningful work and innovation.
Millennials have higher expectations of their bosses and managers to assist and mentor them in the attainment of their professional goals. They are almost obsessed with career development. They appreciate diversity, technology, informality and mostly having fun. Millennials thrive in an environment of collaboration and teamwork.
The more we discussed differences among the different generations, it became clear to me that no matter what generation we are discussing, we all need to understand that there will always be differences. These differences are what makes us grow, so acceptance and adaptability coupled with an environment that fosters what the next generation is seeking become a winning combination for any organization.
Millennials are seeking career development like no other generation before this one. Today they are 34% of the workforce. Tomorrow, they will be the ones in leadership positions determining the future of your organization.
The bottom line is that if an organization wants to continue to attract talent, no matter what generation they may fall into, career development that is tied to a company’s strategic goals is a winning combination. Grooming Millennials to perform at their highest level is a winning strategy because they are hungry for it and they will be the next generation leading your organization. Prepare them well.