Working with millennials — 7 thoughts

When I hear the discussion regarding special rules for working with millennials, I often think it's a silly and contrived discussion. That stated, I think there are several observations worth noting.

1. Millennials are people too! For every generation that enters the workplace, we've all heard them characterized in one way or another. At times, recent generations have been labeled by prior generations as not as hardworking and not as willing to grind it out, etc. I always joke that so many of the people I work with must have missed that memo. Most work just as hard and as smart as any other generation. I don't think you can broadly label generations easily. The group of millennials I know missed that memo on not working hard.

2. A generation of women are staying in the workforce and leading. Distinct from a generation ago, where women tended to make a choice at some point to stay in or out of the workforce, this generation tends to stay in and lead. They find time to balance a lot of parts of life, but overall they stay in the workforce and lead. The department that I'm a part of at work is led by a woman, and the company I founded has a woman CEO and women editors-in-chief. As a whole generation of women tend to stay in the workforce, leadership is being transformed in America.

3. This generation is far more technologically advanced than prior generations. The scary thing about this generation is, in some ways, they are so much more advanced than other generations. Their technological skills are so much stronger than those of older generations. It's inherent in how they grew up. So at a time when older workers need to stay in the workforce for economic and emotional reasons, this can be a scary generation to compete with. It's also an energetic generation.

4. Rumor has it this generation switches jobs more often. This may be very well true. However it may be more an indication of how quickly the economy and companies change than how quickly and anxious millennials are to change jobs. The market churn may be more a reflection of the economy than millennials.

5. The generation is more pro-charity than prior generations. As I look at some parts of culture, I've found where my generation was very focused on the economic prize, this generation is motivated in such a way, too — but they also have a higher level of concern that they aren't just dyed-in-the-wool capitalists. Capitalism is fine, but millennials are much more inclined to want to also be doing something good with their companies. They expect their companies to be highly engaged and "doing good," too.

6. Stereotypes are stereotypes. Like all generations, I find this one wants to be treated fairly and paid fairly at work. Like all generations, some millennials deserve a nice paying and fair job they can contribute in. Others want to lead and are more ambitious. Neither of these characterizations are so different from other generations. Millennials and older workers share many of the same career goals.

7. Millennials, like all of us, need a mix of being taken care of and room to fly. As long as I've been working, employees and all others need a mix of close coaching and not-so-close coaching. It's a great mix. Like every generation, they need to believe people care about them. That's not unique to any generation or age group.

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