Generational stereotypes abound; we Boomers have lots of 'em ("the me generation" is one), as do Millennials (also known as GenY) - those graduating from college from roughly 2003 to 2018 ... As with ours, theirs are part earned, part myth: arriving at job interviews in flip-flops, inquiring immediately about telecommuting policies, expecting quick and painless moves up the corporate ladder.
Insights gleaned through these myriad studies can help we Boomers more easily - and productively - supervise and/or co-exist with them.
Here's 5 from the show's pals at PBS's Next Avenue:
- Provide consistent coaching and feedback
Millennials have spent a lifetime getting regular, almost instant feedback. Whether it’s a lightning-quick response to a text message or school tests that are computer-graded and posted to an Internet gradebook within an hour or two, this is how this generation has been conditioned to live, work and play. So use it to your advantage.
Keep it on-going, but short: while feedback needs to be continual, it doesn’t have to be extensive or formal: the aforementioned text, email, or two-minute conversation can do the trick.
- Millennials see work as a means to an end, not the end
The vast majority of Millennials are children of Boomers and witnessed, up close and personal, the devastation of layoffs, underemployment and eroding pay and benefits for their parents. Thus, although they can be motivated to work hard, they are also more likely to reject the 60-hour weeks their parents put in.Add to that how much Millennials’ social lives influence their workplace expectations: almost 9 in 10 want workplaces to be social and fun.
So, it comes as no surprise that the results of a two-year study completed last year by Price Waterhouse Coopers found that its Millennial workforce sought benefits in line with that philosophy, such as reduced pay for fewer work hours.
Appreciate this and you'll have yourself a great employee.
- Mentor them
Three-quarters of Millennials want a mentor (note: a good mentor is more Yoda than an authority figure), according to MTV’s survey. And Boomers’ experience and powers of persuasion can come in handy in counseling Millennials that flip-flops and cut-offs are generally not acceptable work attire and that continuously posting to Instagram while at work is a no-no.
- Show them the power of spending more time with people than with electronic devices
Millennials are technologically savvy — and proud of it. But numerous studies have found them wanting in the “soft skills” necessary for long-term career success: integrity, professionalism and the ability to interact effectively with superiors, colleagues, clients and customers. None of those skills can be learned with eyes glued to a smart phone.Boomers can constructively help Millennials recognize that people — not technology — do the hiring and promoting. When Millennials are tempted to email or text a complex question or response, do them a favor by highlighting the value of picking up the phone or better yet, walking over and actually talking face-to-face. You'd do this for your own child, right?
- Recognize that each generation has complained about the next one...
...thinking them irresponsible, selfish, entitled, lazy, etc. Had social media existed during our prime, “can you imagine how many frickin’ Instagrams of people playing in the mud during Woodstock we would’ve seen?” asked Scott Hess, senior vice president of insights for media agency
Sparks SMG, in a 2013 Time cover article titled, “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation.” (Time, interestingly, neglected to note that once upon a time, we were also labeled “The Me Generation" as mentioned above)
Finally, keep in mind what a number of respected academicians and social scientists have acknowledged: Millennials’ earnestness, can-do attitude, and optimism which make them very similar to our parents and grandparents, known as “The Greatest Generation.” There's much to work with, here.
You have been officially alerted.