As for Millennials… You Got it! They Want it!
I just spoke at a corporate meeting this week for a client’s clients – their annual user’s conference. It was held at one of Hyatt’s best – nice conducive digs for considering new ideas. The audience was pretty much split right down the middle with Boomers and Millennials. It was a perfect opportunity to talk about a number of generational differences as they relate to trust, communication and collaboration. So I did.
I focused on three issues affecting how we work together, build trust, and achieve collaboration. I specifically talked about
- the accelerating process of change occurring in organizations,
- key differences within our multi-generational workforce,
- and the impact of human individuality.
As I have written in previous articles, Team Excellence is in the business of measuring individual differences, how we intuitively think and behave. What our “normal” is. We do this in a non-clinical and non-judgmental, rather comparative, way so people can learn who they are and how they think relative to everyone else and then choose more appropriate behaviors when a situation calls for it. The result is that we breakdown the judgments and barriers that cause individuals to doubt one another and not trust each other enough to take the necessary interpersonal risks required for genuine and sustained collaboration. Companies call this teambuilding.
New challenges for companies …
I used this presentation to point out that companies today recognize how change is literally turning their business upside down and on its head. Issues like getting more done with less, managing new types of stress, the need for more tolerance and valuing of diversity, never having enough time, and I believe more important than anything else, the need for greater self-reliance and personal accountability. Editorially I noted that organizations whose “leadership normal” is only a “boomer’s normal”, are in real trouble and I don’t think have a very bright future.
I dug into the weeds a bit regarding our multi-generational workforce with comparative information about a variety of perceptual and life-experience influencers. I pointed to the Boomer’s influencers of civil rights, Vietnam War, sexual revolution, Cold War with Russia, and space travel. For the Millennials, I highlighted such influencers as digital media, school shootings, terrorist attacks, AIDS, and 9/11. I tried to explain how these influencers shape a person’s world view.
Differences between Boomers and Millennials …
I also talked about some generational differences in core values, personal attributes, work ethic, view of work/life balance, and expectations of work environment. Some of the significant differences in work environment expectations include for Boomer’s a flat but democratic organizational hierarchy, equal opportunity, and a warm and friendly business culture. Millennials want collaboration, focus on achievement, along with a creative, positive, fun and flexible work culture that provides continuous feedback.
And, herein lies the rub.
“You Got It! They Want It!” is all about a constant flow of information. Information that defines where the organization is going, how it will measure getting there, and above all else, individual feedback on how each employee (team member) is doing in accomplishing and performing their job. Millennials don’t perform well when they only receive annual or semi-annual performance reviews. Millennials want, need and thrive on constant (instant) feedback about their performance – after all they’ve grown up with Google. Enlightened Boomers have learned this and lead, manage, coach and mentor accordingly and effectively. Less enlightened Boomers fall short of the mark, regrettably at their organization’s peril.
In case you’re concerned that I short-changed the Silent Generation (the few that are left) and the Gen Xers, I didn’t. I treated them equally and fairly with all appropriate respect. I just wanted this article to focus on the great challenge (chasm) of assimilating Millennials into organizations that are still primarily lead by Boomers. Both generations are wonderful. Each generation is really different.
Please allow me to leave you with point number one from my perspective: YOU GOT IT! THEY WANT IT! SO GIVE IT!
OBTW… there’s a pretty interesting and easy-read book on this subject, written by a guy I know, titled Team Covenant. Daniel H. Pink, NY Times best-selling author of DRIVE and other best-selling books on human behavior says of this book: “Randy Hopkins understands the new generation of employees and what they need in order to produce exceptional work. Team Covenant offers a thoughtful, holistic approach to human resources that puts people first.”