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Gen X Accountants, Here Are Four Ways to Cope with Your Millenial Co-workers

Judging by the timing of the comments, it looks like many of you were burning the oil on Sunday; sorry to see that. As always, thank you for your discussion. Picking up where I left off with Generation X, my advice is simple:

Know your competition – With the job market consisting of 80 million Baby Boomers and 78 million Millennials, the 46 million Generation X’ers out there need to realize the statistical battle that lies ahead. Accept the inevitable – you will be working side-by-side with Generations MY regardless of their competency. Sure, they might be “whiny, work-dodging, self-satisfied wimps” as GC commenter champmonkey expressed so eloquently; but it’s only a matter of time before these wimps are pawning work off on to you, Gen X.

Roll up your sleeves – And grab a shovel, community service is here to stay. recently cited a Harvard poll that “found that 61 percent of Millennials feel personally obligated to make a difference in the world, and a full 78 percent believe that companies have a responsibility to join them in this effort.” Your firm’s recent (past five years) attention to community service issues and providing tangible options to employees is not because Scrooge suddenly had a heart – these were direct and purposeful recruiting strategies clothed in heartfelt intentions. I’m not saying this is a negative, quite the opposite. Nonetheless, be prepared for programs like Ernst & Young’s corporate responsibility and KPMG’s Build-a-Bear event to become staples.

Attention to detail – As another commenter on last Thursday’s post noted, multitasking has a primary downside – tasks simply take longer to complete. Although the MY generations are becoming increasingly efficient at multitasking (have you seen them text?!) not enough can be said for being responsible for one’s work and seeing tasks through to their completion. Your bosses know this; your clients know this; you thrive on this. Use this to your advantage and, by all means, beat this habit into the minds of your tweeting/Facebooking subordinates. On the flip side you need to understand that Generation MY is not going to wake up one morning able to burrow through a day’s work without staying connected to the outside world. It is an engrained part of their daily lives that needs to be accepted, not smothered out like a fire.

Get used to hand holding – It’s going to take time for Generations MY to comprehend the essential need for better work, honest ownership of one’s responsibilities, and understanding that “me” in team is a crock. There will have to be acceptance and understanding from both parties. Drop the bogus mindset that “it is what it is” and begin to actively try to get along.

That means you too, Millennials.