Who are Millenials?
Millenials are defined loosely as the generation born in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Right now, some are still teenagers; but those in their twenties are entering the workforce. Some companies are adjusting to harness the vision and energy these young workers offer, while some are struggling to mold workers into predefined structures.
The rise of social media along with mobile and high tech will eventually force companies to actively recruit young talent. As Millenials begin entering the workforce en masse, multi-generational tension can be expected to develop as organizations adapt to the needs and ideologies of the younger workers.
The generation is largely described as “coddled” and “high maintenance” – the result of highly-involved parents. However, studies have shown that Millenials aren’t dreaming the same American Dream of other generations. With the rise of technology, Millenials feel a growing sense of global community and social boundaries are easily overlooked. While this has increased social awareness in the humanitarian sense, it can often create tension as Millenials tend to overstep boundaries in the workplace.
For Millenials, work isn’t about a paycheck. It’s about purpose.
Millenials, invest time, energy and meaning into their work. Thus, they often seek meaningful feedback from supervisors or peers. This need for open communication is often a source of tension as it can disrupt standard hierarchies of the business model.
When a Millenial works on a project for a supervisor, the Millenial will most likely seek and expect feedback from the supervisor to whom he submitted the project, not the supervisor to whom he directly reports.
The Millenial lives in a world where time and communication are managed quickly through technology. Unlike older generations, he expects to maintain almost constant correspondence – whether formal or informal, social or professional – throughout the day. He is a constant multi-tasker, and in the name of efficiency, will seek out the primary source for his answers.
Sending an e-mail over a direct supervisor’s head will seem like no big deal to the Millenial. For most, this would be an obvious deviation from standard protocol.
Consider: the Millennial has more than likely spent most of his time in an academic setting in which roles of authority were in the position of answering questions, stimulating conversation and fostering growth. This is where the model of lateral collaboration comes forth.
How Millenials Can Benefit Your Company?
Lateral collaboration is one of the Millenials greatest assets. He can work across boundaries to build effective teams that contain diverse groups of people. To harness this leadership skill, provide the Millenial with a clear sense of who belongs to his support group.
Using the term ‘support,’ will provide a more lateral reach across standard hierarchies. If you let the Millenial know you are in his support group, but that your boss is excluded, you shouldn’t have a problem with any breaches in standards.
Structure, guidance and clear expectations (from both parties) are important factors in cross-generational collaboration. Think of it as a merging of the old and the new. You are just as essential to the evolution of your company as the Millenial is.
The greatest challenge will be balancing innovation with preservation, in deciding what needs to change and what needs to continue to define your company’s image and workplace. Remember, collaboration is the name of the game to the Millenial. He will value your input, so provide it accordingly.
Recruiting Millenials could also mean a healthier workplace. The majority of Millenials name “Work/Life Balance” as the primary concern in developing a career. This includes benefits and other company-wide initiative that work to insure that employees can maintain healthy lifestyles. A shifting spotlight on worker health is better for everyone involved.
Amanda Watson is a freelancer blogger who writes about online mba programs and other topics pertaining to online higher education. You can reach Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org.