Millennial Generation & The M-Factor

imagesAs a twenty-year old, it is interesting to read a book about “my generation” aka the Millennials. The Millennials were born between 1982 and 2000—“sometimes called Generation Y, GenNext, the Google Generation, the Echo Boom, or even the Tech generation—are 76 million strong and compose the fastest-growing segment of workers today” (Lancaster & Stillman 5). Lancaster and Stillman write “The M-factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace” which is based on a vast amount of research and stories that highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the Millennial generation as well as how the workplace is altering based on the entrance of this new generation. This is a great read for organizations trying to market themselves towards hiring millennial employees, managers working with Millennials, and Millennials themselves entering or already in the workforce. The author thoroughly describes seven trends of Millennials; here is a quick overview along with what I took away from them: 1. The Role of Parents: Millennials have a close relationship with their parents; they look to them as more than role models but as friends and they want their parents to be involved in their lives. Millennials are entering the workforce with less work experience than other generations, mostly because their parents would rather them travel, volunteer, play sports, and be involved with extracurricular activities. This means that many Millennials are cultured and bring diverse experiences to the workplace. This close relationship with their parents demonstrates that Millennials:

  • Work well with other generations
  • Have been coached their whole lives and expect the same in the workplace
  • Need to have defined boundaries on privacy and confidentiality so they will not share private information
  • Want mentors…and mentoring millennial employees will add value to them as employees and the organization as a whole

2. Entitlement: Millennials have continuously been told “the world is their oyster”, therefore if a Millennial is not happy in a position, they might just leave due to their idea of the availability of unlimited opportunities. In order to keep Millennials in your organization, think about recruiting, retention, rewards, and respect:

  • Recruiting: paint a realistic picture, have a great internship program, use technology (ex. videos) to help demonstrate what the org is like
  • Retention: make sure Millennials have enough to do (no ZZZ’s), mix up their work, discuss their futures with them
  • Rewards: rewards don’t have to be big to be meaningful, customization is great, reward while it is still rewarding (In relation to #5, Millennials move at extremely fast rates so if you wait to reward, it will not have as great of an impact)
  • Respect: remember the golden rule, respect goes both ways

3. The Search for Job Meaning: Millennials want to make a difference in the world, be heard, feel like they are contributing, innovate, and know that they are succeeding—so help them do this! This also connects back to entitlement. If Millennials do not have meaning in their work, they are much more likely to leave. 4. Great Expectations: Whenever a new generation enters the workforce, expectations about work need to be re-defined to compensate for generational disconnects.

  • Set clear expectations for millennial employees during recruitment and training
  • Coach on explicit and implicit matters…Since Millennials are entering the workplace with less work experience, they may need to be coached on these implicit matters, don’t assume they know all! For example, how to sell an idea, how to leave an appropriate outgoing voice-mail message, what to wear to work, etc.
  • Transparency—important to Millennial hires that there is a level of transparency both within the organization and to the outside world
  • Manage and communicate expectations clearly

5. The Need for Speed: Simply, Millennials live in a generation that moves at an extremely fast pace and sometimes do not understand why everyone in the workplace is not moving as fast as them. Make sure to:

  • Discuss the speed: For example, sometimes emailing is faster than phone calls however a manager might want a Millennial to make a phone call in order to foster a relationship. Instead of just acting or assigning tasks, discuss with Millennials why you do things the way you do.
  • Manage the pace: It is helpful to define what “ASAP” means and set timelines and deadlines. A Millennial might take ASAP to mean within the next hour when the task really does not need to be done until the following week.
  • Multitask efficiently: Millennials have grown up multi-tasking and can usually do a couple tasks at a time. Let them multitask when it is efficient for them but also make sure they understand why sometimes just focusing on a particular task is important.
  • Efficient meetings: Millennials might have insight on how to accomplish meetings more efficiently which might help to reduce meeting time. For example, using Google docs before a meeting for members to collectively update each other and ask questions so meetings can address issues and new material.

6. Social Networking: The Millennial generation uses social media tools daily, unconsciously networking themselves to the larger online community. Organizations have a lot to learn from Millennials as they have an innate ability to think in a networked way through social media and interpersonal interactions. Be open to using social media tools to network and further your organization and develop a social media policy and strategy for your organization. Lancaster and Stillman also discuss how Millennials find out the most information about organizations online so make sure your website is up to date and full of information to attract Millennials. 7. Collaborating: Millennials work well on teams. They know how to delegate efficiently and choose the person best suited for a task based on skill, not hierarchy or seniority – Put Millennials on teams and make sure knowledge transfer occurs between generations (Millennials collaborate well with other generations also). Lancaster and Stillman’s book is full of pragmatic approaches and they share many more tips and hints for working with the Millennial generation in their book, so check it out! What have you experienced in working with Millennials, or as a Millennial, entering the workplace?

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