On Working with M[e]illennials

With our two-year anniversary at itelligence fast-approaching, I wanted to pay #homage to my consulting training class, some of the most compassionate and benevolent individuals that I could hope to know and furthermore, a fun-loving group of out-of-the-box thinkers with a nack for diving into challenges head-first.

In a research presentation posted by Brown University: TRADITIONALISTS, BOOMERS, XERS, AND MILLENNIALS: GIVING AND GETTING THE MENTORING YOU WANT, Cathy A. Trower, Ph.D. reviews why thinking generationally matters. The gist being that by the year 2014 (yikes!), 70 million baby boomers will retire and therefore, the old models of who works and what they work for are steadily changing.

When it comes to working well with others, it is essential to understand each individual’s motivational factors and through what mediums and mentoring outlets they are able to best to take direction and execute tasks successfully. One of the greatest challenges when starting my professional career was coming to terms with the fact that not everyone learns and executes at the same rate and by the same means as I do. Many people born between the years 1980-2000 grew up with the notion of teamwork. Most come from family-focused environments and education systems which encourage team sports and learning. iPods, computers, and cell-phones have enabled us to become expert mutli-taskers. The diversity which our generation has been exposed to has instilled in us greater sense of social and civic responsibility.

An article in USA Today, “Generation Y: They’ve arrived at work with a new attitude” sheds light on a few of our character traits which may or may not appeal to recruiters. It all depends on how you are able to spin it. “Freshly minted college graduates are overseeing employees old enough to be their parents. And new job entrants are changing careers faster than college students change their majors, creating frustration for employers struggling to retain and recruit talented high-performers.” We [Gen Y] tend to need instant feedback and gratification, whereas, the Baby Boomers and Generation X are more accustomed to formal evaluations on a quarterly or yearly basis. From a Human Resources standpoint, it would be beneficial to offer customization to new employees in which they can outline a plan specific to themselves. Additionally, companies should focus their initial training on work ethic, customer service skills and time management.

As USA Today states we actually “know a great deal about Gen Y: They have financial smarts. Work-life balance isn’t just a buzz word. They are excited by perks and inventive recruiting tactics.” Also, Generation Y is not afraid to change things up a bit. “Generation Yers don’t expect to stay in a job, or even a career, for too long — they’ve seen the scandals that imploded Enron and Arthur Andersen, and they’re skeptical when it comes to such concepts as employee loyalty.” Job security aside, this generation of multi-taskers don’t like to stick themselves to a single assignment for long periods of time. Sounds like consulting might just be the perfect gig, huh?

Generation Y: Young, smart and brash. Possibly wearing flip-flops to the office or listening to iPods at their desk. They want to work, but they don’t want work to be their life. The Baby Boomers may have ingrained company loyalty and Gen X may have a longer attention span, but corporate America  better watch out because the Millennials are coming and we have something they don’t: s-t-Y-l-e.




All images: Brown University, Mentoring Luncheon (2009)


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