We knew they were coming, those “kids” who grew up never knowing the Internet didn’t exist; the same kids who were given awards, “just for showing up.” The Millennials are here: the generation of kids after the X’s who nobody seems to give credit for their unique learning, communication, leadership and work styles.
Of course, we disagree.
Managing Millennials isn’t the same as herding kittens, despite the number of “memes” they share. Millennials get information at an incredible pace, and they’re the generation with the most college degrees, ever. They’re creating a new language (amirite?) and are motivated by… well, that depends on each person you ask (but, we bet money isn’t #1 on the list). These vibrant, unique young adults have developed their own culture through online means because they’ve had the world at their fingertips their entire lives. Even more astounding, Millennials around the world probably share this same culture to a greater extent than they do with their own local, regional or country-of-origin.
These connections (and plenty of others) are forcing businesses to examine their own management skills as more Millennials walk through the doors, ready to take on the daily grind in their own creative ways.
Millennials are discerning; they know where to go for the best information, and they can do it faster than Superman. Information is their game, and along with it, comes an appearance of naivety when called into an office for “old school” business discussions. Perhaps, the missing link between Millennials, Boomers and the X’ers is the real-world experience they’ve missed through personal data mining. Experiential learning. Hands-on learning. Learning that they can feel and that becomes part of Millennials’ physical memory, not just their intellect.
Millennial management skills should include programs that shake up these “kids” and give them a different window into the world. Online “personality tests” are built by marketers and can imprint a skill set within a person’s persona that isn’t true… but, experiential learning activities help that person discover those skills on their own. Skills become personal, a part of the mind and body… not just words on a screen.
We’re not saying that this new powerhouse generation of workers are all tied to their screens. We are saying, however, that the culture of their lives is remarkably different from those who began using the Internet in high school, college or later in life. Millennials are not without a work ethic or motivation to succeed… they do have different ways of reaching their goals. With the right management training and experiential learning programs, bridging the gap between these worlds can enhance the communication between generations, increase awareness of different learning styles and ultimately get both management and employees into a new groove and a better future.