Millennials In The Generational Workplace

In anticipation of a guest post tomorrow from none other than Beatriz Alemar, founder of Breakthru Life and member of this community, I’m going to recap an opinion column in Ad Age Feb. 20, 2012 that inspired my invite to Beatriz to post on the topic of millennials.

I’ve always been fascinated with demographics and their nomenclature. Now, more than ever, I wonder about the corporations seeing the blending of extreme youth with the profession’s elders. Teams are being cast with a a senior mentor and a young professional sharing some ropes, too.

This opinion piece I paraphrase today is from Beth Ann Kaminkow, president and CEO of TracyLocke. I love this first paragraph I’m going to repeat exactly, “We’re seeing a progression in the quality of young professionals. This  isn’t a group ready to stay in the background and learn the way things are done. This is a talent dynamic that I foresee shaping the way we work and interact, and they’ll present challenges.”

Think about your teenagers at home or those in your family. Have you ever seen the devour a device and never look up? How about that texting? The superficial social skills with a blip interaction create horrifying habits for the workplace. Fast forward to the college grads who maintain those habits and also think Facebook is their playground for laughs and giggles.

Does your company need to hire young people from college? There may be a respite as so many more seasoned Americans are out of work, but companies can’t avoid hiring millennials.

Kaminkow suggests the solutions are training that builds habits with a push to dig deeper instead of skim the surface. Teachable moments should be cherished whenever they pop up, too.

In the piece she wrote, Kaminkow gives five tips on how to incorporate millennials  into the workplace:

  • Loyalty is fleeting. Companies need to give these youth a reason to stick around. With digital skills that abound, the “babies of the recession” (as Kaminkow states) want to use those skills.
  • Engagement inside the company and with clients (coming from an agency perspective) are what matter. There are many coaching opportunities to teach hierarchy; something many young people are not glomming on to.
  • Less respect for process. Online research being always available to millennials sets off common systems and processes in the workplace. When a manager “has always done it this way,” and a newbie rolls in and sidesteps the steps…imagine the sparks!
  • Whites of the Eyes. Facebook never meant face time. The in-person meeting is less preferred by youth due to the comfort with texting and social media postings. That has to change as body language, facial expressions, and contextual understanding are critical in business (and especially teams).
  • Coffeehouse. I love this tip Kaminkow provides most of all.  She suggests each company make a coffeehouse area with comfy couches for everyone to get supine and brainstorm. Millennials with their devices gathered up with a Starbucks green tea respond better to this than to sterile cubicles.

In her close, Kaminkow puts the onus on a new style of management and leadership to integrate the generations. She draws a comparison to the blending of new tools as to the blending of new talent “into a thoughtfully reimagined environment.”