Working with Millennials

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FountainBlue’s June 12 When She Speaks event was on the topic of Working with Millennials and featured:
• Facilitator Lisa Orrell, The Generation Relations Expert, The Orrell Group, author of Millennials Incorporated
• Panelist Urvi Bhandari, Sales Manager, AT&T
• Panelist Megan Campi, Customer Service Relationship Manager, Cisco
• Panelist Kristen Dearing, Leader of Strategic Sales, Global Communications and Media, Sun Microsystems
• Panelist Claudia Galvan, Lead, International Program Management Group, Microsoft
• Panelist Shalini Govil-Pai, Lead PM, Google
• Panelist Lori Smith, Director of HR, Cisco

Working with Millennials
The Millennial Generation, otherwise known as Generation Y, is no longer made-up of just kids and teens. Born in the early 80s and 90s, the eldest are now graduating college and entering and impacting the professional workforce. As the earliest Baby Boomers are starting to reach retirement age, and with the increasing pressures for organizations large and small to recruit and retain in key talent from the millennial generation, it is becoming increasingly more important to understand and work with this generation of workers.

Millennials are in general energetic with a plethora of ideas and a direct, assertive style in communicating them, without necessarily following established business etiquette or without respecting chain-of-command expectations (speaking to top management over direct bosses for example). They are globally-minded and techno-philic, leveraging social media tools such as YouTube, FaceBook, texting and Twitter. They are used to multi-tasking (texting during meetings, committing to many work and life projects and juggling multiple priorities), to confidently speaking what’s on their mind (directly communicating their goals and objectives), and to being global in their interests and connections.

With all these strengths, a noted weakness is that many Millennials are more interested in generating ideas than in seeing them through to results and conclusions, often distracted by the next idea. There was also a conversation about the perceived sense of entitlement that many Millennials have, and how to better understand and work with Millennials who are perceived as having a sense of entitlement. There was general agreement that it is more a perception based on the confident, direct, salary- and role- centered communications and desire to move quickly and make a positive difference than an ACTUAL desire for privileges and rights and title, etc, without merit. Therefore, the suggestion from the panel is for Millennials to understand how they are coming across and folks of younger and older generations to understand the Millennials’ perspective and therefore be less likely to take offense to it.

The panel shared some sage and practical advice on how to recruit, retain and communicate with Millennials. The overall emphasis was on training managers to be more resourceful, more communicative, and more flexible in understanding what motivates Millennials, and in keeping them engaged in projects which interest them, and specific suggestions are listed below.
• Leverage the strengths and global interests of Millennials to direct them into leadership opportunities outside work, while also keeping them engaged at work.
• Challenge managers to make their projects appear more compelling and exciting to Millennials.
• Encourage managers to open communication channels between Millennials and senior management as an opportunity to share ideas, motivate Millennials and even provide reverse-mentoring opportunities.
• Initiate friendly competitions leveraging social media will help Millennials participate in strategic conversations ensuring that technologies and ideas address the needs of younger target audiences, for example.
• Help Millennials to develop patience while building successes and skills and personal brand as they strive to achieve their short-term and long-term career objectives.
• Provide continual feedback and communications to Millennials as they were raised in an age of instant communication and crave this level of feedback.
• Leverage global communication technology to better attract and retain Millennials.
• Take every opportunity to mentor and support high-potential Millennials, for they are our future leaders.
• Welcome and encourage play in the workplace, from scooters to XBoxes for example, as part of the corporate culture.
• Engage Millennials in strategies to better communicate with Millennials and others through social networking channels.

Leaders and organizations will find that following the practices noted above is not only going to better attract and retain Millennials, but it will positively impact workers and overall culture. Indeed, Millennials speak for other workers when they express displeasure or ideas for change, but they are more vocal and direct about expressing their ideas, and less tolerant if change doesn’t happen. Listening to the needs of Millennials and making the changes will positively impact working conditions for all.

Resources:
• Order one of Lisa Orrell’s Books, Millennials Incorporated by visiting http://www.amazon.com/Millennials-Incorporated-Lisa-Orrell/dp/1932279822/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1194980814&sr=1-1. FountainBlue members may also receive a 20% discount off Lisa’s speaking and training services http://www.millennialsincorporated.com.

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