Sometimes I get sick of the word Millennial. Yes, I realize it is strewn across my blog bio and header, and I am very proud to be an advocate for my generation, but sometimes I feel like we are over saturated with “studies” and “data” about “engaging Millennials.” I mean, we are all different people, with different values, personalities, communication styles, and backgrounds. Just because we were born in the same decade doesn’t mean we’re the same people.
And then I came across this post by Beth Kanter recapping Scott Gerber’s keynote from the Millennial Impact Conference (#MCON2012) and I was pleasantly surprised. Although the points still have some generalization to them, I felt as though many of the points actually combat the stereotypes that often come out of these “reports.” Here were a few points I especially appreciated.
- Millennials are 24-7 generation. The Internet has caused this. Babyboomers think Millennials are lazy. We don’t work hard, we work smarter. We can get you new business at 2 am on Saturday by being on Facebook. We are a generation that doesn’t know what it is like not to have the Internet or a Microwave. The traditional workplace norm of a 9-5 schedule doesn’t work for us. I especially liked the point that we don’t work hard, we work smarter. There’s something to say about quality over quantity. That’s why I’m all about efficiency and effectiveness in my own work. If I’m doing a project in the way that’s been done before, but it’s tedious, I get much more annoyed than working on something the best way I know how.
- Speak to Millennials. In the corporate world, there is a hierarchy that makes decisions. It’s top down. The upper generation of a company handles the younger generation. Babyboomers need to figure out what Millennials are inspired by your organization or mission and take the ball and run with it. They can be your internal Ambassadors. If you can find a Millennial brand ambassador, they will find and inspires thousands. When a Millennial is convinced of the value of something, they are steadfast to support it. They will share your posts, find your news, and advocate for you. But they can’t get there if you don’t talk to them.
- Millennials want to do something that matters. Upon graduation, their dreams were burst because they didn’t get the corner office but the mail room. Babyboomers need to mentor these young people and treat them like equals, not grunts. Ask the Millennials, ”What is your opinion?” Many times those ideas won’t fit, but some will and that could lead to dramatic success. If I had a dollar for every time I heard a Millennial groan that they have to do administrative work I’d be a very rich woman. I want to shout to my peers – you have to earn your keep! This is a big problem, but this point is absolutely correct, that you can help Millennials feel better about their jobs by involving them in the process in other ways.
Instead of studying Millennials as if we are foreign creatures, think about the time we grew up in, the generation of our parents who raised us, and our background in general. Nine times out of ten this will be enough to help you determine our habits. I promise you don’t have to send out an electronic survey through Twitter.