While many of you may have grown children, and others still have kids in diapers (bless your hearts!), most of us probably have kids in the generation known as Generation Y or the Millennials. And if you can imagine your kids working for you, you get a sense of the challenges that face managers as they start to hire this generation.
Case in point – my daughter interned for us when she was 16. While we all thought she did a great job, there was one task that she simply refused to perform. One of my coworkers asked her to mail a couple of copies of a magazine to a contributor. She sat on it for days and days. I couldn’t understand how something so menial and quick would be so daunting for her. Turns out she had no idea of the mechanics of mailing a package. She didn’t know where the envelopes and labels were. She’d never used a typewriter before. She didn’t know where the package should be placed so it would get mailed.
Ask her to redesign our web page, on the other hand, and she’d be all over it.
This generation brings a different skillset to the workplace than previous generations, and the more managers understand their particular needs and strengths, the easier the transition will be. A recently published report from PBP Executive Reports outlines “The Nine Ways to Get the Most from the Internet Generation.” Subtitled “Managing Millennials” (a bit of a mouthful), the report discusses the pros and cons of working with this tech-savvy but easily distracted group.
While I would caution that such a huge group of people – some 40 million are already employed in the US, and another 40 million are on the way – can’t really be categorized by a few traits, it is true that they have been raised differently than their forerunners and therefore bring a different set of expectations to the workplace.
“To understand any generation, it’s best to start with how they were raised,” the report states. “And the upbringing of Millennials plays a big part in their work ethic.” Many of these people have been raised by parents who were very involved in their upbringing, who often told them they were special, and who went to bat for them when their grades slipped or they didn’t make the team. While this make for an exceptionally confident group of employees, it also makes them overly sensitive to criticism.
On the other hand, many of these kids have been “latchkey” kids, meaning Mom and Dad weren’t home with they got home from school. This makes them independent and able to work on their own. They also tend to be well-educated and eager to continue their education even after entering the workforce.
Overall, the pros of hiring Millennials include the fact that they’re self-starters, they’re independent but also team-oriented, they’re multi-taskers, they’re good with technology, and they’re full of creative genius. Cons include the fact that they can be pampered, self-indulgent, entitled, narcissistic, and rebellious.
So how does one handle this large and somewhat disorderly group? A few key pointers:
- They need structure, but they also need flexibility, the whole “work/life balance” thing.
- They need a strong relationship with their supervisors, who should be approachable, help develop confidence, and be available for questions about work performance.
- They need constant training and challenges to keep from getting bored.
- They need encouragement.
- They like to work in teams.
- They are very technology-savvy.
- They will thrive in an organization that plays to their strengths.
The complete report is available for US $59 at www.pbpExecutiveReports.com.
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