Like it or not, one day Millennials will take over the world. Being lumped in with them myself due to my unfortunate birth year and tendency to know my way around a device with an Internet connection, I assure you that's not necessarily a bad thing. "Kids" these days (reminder: I'm the oldest Millennial at 33 years old, I haven't been a "kid" since I was getting thrown out of Milwaukee bars at 17) really aren't so baffling, and yet "experts" continue to write articles painting this generation as entitled, deluded, and confusing as all hell to everyone but themselves.
Paul McDonald, a senior executive director at Robert Half, has written a piece for Financial Executives International Daily that takes a different approach to decoding the mysterious Millennial:
They’re a highly educated, innovative force that has swept through the workplace and now influences every level of their organizations. If you’re not actively recruiting, developing and working to retain Gen Y professionals, you’re losing competitive edge.
Well, that goes without saying. Someone needs to inherit the empire and age discrimination is completely illegal, so yeah, you have to hire some young blood to keep the machine going. Moving on:
Start by learning what makes them tick. For most Millennials, their core desires are like those of every other generational group – a job that they enjoy and is a source of pride, a manager they respect and can learn from, fair compensation, and the ability to balance their professional and personal lives.
At the same time, there are unique attributes common among members of this generation. For one, they frequently crave feedback. You can tap into this need and foster passion and commitment from these employees by helping them answer:
• Where am I going in my career?
• What’s important to my company?
• How does my role help the company reach its objectives?
• How can my company and my manager help me reach my goals?
Ongoing communication is key. Be positive, but also genuine, providing constructive criticism as needed. Don’t wait for formal performance review periods, however. Provide your feedback in real time.
This has been said about Millennials before, usually with a paragraph about how we all grew up getting trophies at every turn and demand constant prodding like so many stubborn cattle headed to slaughter. What the above statement is also missing is a long, drawn-out bit on how Millennials all want to change the world, as if this is something new for starry-eyed 20 year olds who have yet to meet something called "the real world" (as in reality, not the once glorious MTV reality show). How quickly generations before us forget they, too, once wanted to change the world, at least until they met the world and had to start paying bills.
Wait, there's more:
Fortunately for businesses, a strong desire for continuous learning is another defining characteristic of this demographic. Provide formal and informal training opportunities, focusing on the technical skills Millennials need to advance along with key nontechnical attributes, particularly leadership and communication.
OMG, someone just suggested future leaders could use a little coaching? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.
This is where the article gets weird. We all know new staff need good oldies to show them the ropes, but this crazy person is suggesting that mentorship can — gasp — go the other way? This is a truly disruptive concept right here:
Also consider reverse-mentoring arrangements, where Gen Y staff can mentor more experienced colleagues. For example, a financial analyst could show your chief accounting officer the ropes with new social media platforms or other emerging technologies. This arrangement shows employees you value their expertise and provides them another opportunity to hone their leadership skills.
All in all, good piece on grooming Millennials. The main takeaway here is that "kids these days" aren't aliens from another planet. Especially in the realm of professional services, they are just like anyone else when it comes to salary, culture, and a minimum of respect. It really isn't complicated, people.