Millennials!! As this generation has entered the world of work, the Boomer generation who spawned and raised them is having a hard time adapting to them as adults. Did the Boomers create a monster? Or did Millennials take their parents’ idealism to heart, growing up to believe in themselves and being less willing to compromise their personal ideals and values when “working for The Man”?
Millennials are now the largest generation on the planet, recently knocking the Baby Boomers from that spot. (Generation X is a much smaller generation, barely making a blip on the radar and sandwiched between these two large demographics.)
For all the workplace hand-wringing, eye rolling, and back biting between Millennials and Boomers, these two behemoth generations actually share some things in common: they are strong, innovative, and pioneering.
Here’s how Millennials will shape corporate culture and ultimately make your company more successful:
1. They are confident in their abilities.
This is great! They aren’t going to shy away from ambitious goals. Yes, you have to help them understand that while their confidence is great, it doesn’ t mean they are wise or seasoned enough yet to run a department – let alone be the CEO, but they will respond if you take them under your wing and mentor them.
2. They dream big.
They innovate like no other generation because they can envision big ideas, especially in the abstract and conceptual. They live and play in the virtual, abstract world where they can create and use technology to do tasks that people used to do. They just don’t have the experience or practice of bringing those ideas into physical reality like previous generations did. Give them more experiences interacting physically with things and other people in the same space to help ground them.
3. They are focused on the good of the group.
In contrast, to other generations, Millennials focus on the group instead of only on themselves. They also put a premium on fairness because of it. I think other generations have believed in fairness, too; they were just more willing to put with unfairness than Millennials are. Millennials can make your workplace better as you create and enforce workplace rules and policies using more participative methods of gathering input. This same participative input could be used where appropriate in designing products and services and other decision-making.
4. They are conscious of creating a better world.
This includes improving society and taking care of the environment. If your company mission is connected to impacting the world positively, you can use that to deeply engage this generation.
5. They are motivated by learning.
Decades of employee engagement research has listed professional development and training as motivators for employees, and the same is true for Millennials. The difference is they respond to learning and development where they are challenged to think and innovate. Be a guiding mentor who can provide them with useful experiences, instead of the usual training classes where they passively receive knowledge from a “sage on the stage”.
See? All is not lost. With guidance and structure from Generation X and the Baby Boomers for navigating the workings of and relationships in the “real” world, Millennials will be able to bring their abstractions into reality and fully appreciate and participate in the workplace with fewer misunderstandings.
Could it be that, at this point in history as we are experiencing a shift from a focus on masculine, patriarchal values (such as competition, central authority, hierarchy, and independence) toward more balance with feminine values (such as cooperation, shared authority, egalitarianism, and interdependence), that Millennials are the generational step in this general direction?
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more positive impact within their organizations by gaining greater focus, self-awareness, and influence with their teams. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.