The Millennial Generation, defined as people born between 1980 and 2000, has received a lot of attention because of their unique perspective on work, expectations and communication. However, as the Baby Boomers retire over the next 20 years and businesses move into growth mode, Millennials will have increasing prominence in the workforce. Rather than fight or try to change how Millennials think about work, organizations need to learn how to harness their unique talents to be successful in an age of rapidly changing technology, constant communication and connectedness, and globalization. Below are three common myths about the Millennial generation and tips for how to harness their unique talents.
Myth: Millennials are Poor Communicators
The truth is, Millennials are excellent communicators, but strongly rely on technology to share information. While Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) prefer face-to-face communication and Gen Xers (born between 1965 and 1980) rely on email, Millennials prefer communication methods that are instant (texting, social media, instant messaging). This way of communicating takes the idea of networking to a whole new level, in which messages can reach countless numbers in a matter of seconds. Interestingly, Kim Huggins, President of K HR Solutions reports that Millennials still prefer regular face-to-face communication when they are talking to their boss.
Leverage technology to communicate with Millennials clearly and often. Adopt mobile and wireless technology that is cloud-based to leverage Millennials’ productivity and keep them engaged.
Myth: Millennials Think They Shouldn’t Have to Work Hard
On the contrary. A recent study by SBR Consulting found that 74% of Millennials agree that hard work improves one’s chances of moving ahead within a company. However, Millennials want to work for an organization that serves a greater purpose and has a vision that they believe in. In addition, they want flexibility over their time and choice as to when they work.
Consider adopting flexible schedules and options for virtual work. Be sure to define and regularly communicate the importance of the work achieved by the organization and how individuals contribute to something larger than themselves.
Myth: Millennials are Disrespectful
All generations want to be respected; the rub comes in how generations define what respect means. According to Haydn Shaw at FranklinCovey, people from the Traditionalist Generation (born before 1946) believe that respect comes from seniority and tenure. For Baby Boomers, respect is earned by paying your dues and experience. On the other hand, Millennials believe that everyone should be respected and have a voice, regardless of age or experience. They believe that they have an opinion that deserves consideration from day one.
Be open to listening to the ideas that Millennials have to share and help them understand the reasoning behind decisions.
While Millennials sometimes get a bad rap, every generation has expectations and a perspective on the best way to communicate, get work done and be appreciated. Working well together requires treating each other with respect, recognizing and leveraging unique talents and setting clear expectations of how to work together. This requires listening and being open and willing to adapt, regardless of generation.