Whether you call them Generation Y, Millenials, the 9/11 Generation, or the Facebook Generation, they are different. Perhaps better, perhaps worse than the cohort of young people that preceded them, they are distinctive in behavior and attitudes. Entrepreneurs these days often find themselves dealing with this group of talented folks, as indeed all employers will. They have been written about, and, thanks to blogging, they have written themselves in volumes. They are stereotyped as having the attention span of a particularly scatterbrained flea, being permanently attached to some sort of device, and needing constant affirmation, just to mention a random few characterizations. How accurate are these notions? Are there some characteristics that might indeed apply to many of these young adults? How can a savvy boss exploit their strengths and work around the rest?
The habit of starting every explanation or presentation with “so” is highly associated with the young, and perhaps most especially, the highly educated ones. Who appropriated this discourse marker as the verbal equivalent of clearing one’s throat before a lengthy explanation? We may never know for sure, but the wise employer will try to ignore the irritation of this verbal tick. However, try to encourage young people to avoid it in presentations to older adults – it will not impress them.
Time-keeping is now the task of the cell phone or other hand-held device. How to deal with this? Be conscious of it, and don’t be surprised or annoyed when your young colleagues, contractors, or freelancers reach for their phones to synchronize their times. Consider using one of the several apps (including the free Google calendar) that allows shared scheduling.
Is anyone surprised? Ever since Sesame Street and its successors, media aimed at young people has jumped from one subject or shot to another faster and faster. It sometimes seems (to a father, at least) as though Millennials can absorb only so much at once and then just stop listening. How to respond? Keep your explanations brief – the briefer the better. Check back later to make sure that your message has been understood. Follow up with a written set of expectations, just as these kids have often received all the way through school. Think of your presentation of detail in the same way that you would construct a website; provide a teaser up front, and opportunities to drill down and get the meaty stuff afterwards.
Never leaving the nest
Don’t be surprised or judgmental if your young employee/colleague lives at home and talks with their parents daily. In the USA at least, family planning means that more of these kids were wanted and planned for than in previous generations. They don’t necessarily need to break away to feel like adults, especially when home is so comfy. This can be a plus for you. They can afford to take only a job that they really want, rather than one just to survive.
This generation grew up with ubiquitous hand sanitizer; don’t expect them to take risks readily.
These folks have been doing homework, watching a movie, listening to music, messaging on social media, and checking emails all at once since they were old enough to manipulate their thumbs. They are not likely to change just because they are working for or with you. If you build this multi-tasking into your expectations, you will not be disappointed. Consider apps or software that allow you to keep track the progress of a project, in case there is too much chatting and too little work that is going on.
This is not true of all Millennials, but many have also been mainlining caffeine since they were very young, as well. They may be accustomed to postponing the start of a task until nearly the last moment, and then pushing themselves with the help of large doses of … whatever supposed energy booster they prefer. This can be disconcerting for an employer or colleague who would prefer to see a project progress during what are usually considered normal working hours. However, in a globally connected world, working at night can be a useful strategy.
For the most part, schools have done a good job of exposing kids to the idea of celebrating diversity. As a result, you may find it easier to assemble a team that respects one another than you might have in past decades. Exploit this to increase the diversity of your firm and reap the rewards.
Team players – yes and no
Schools have also provided training in working in groups, This means that these Millennials are able to cooperate and collaborate well. This is very efficient whom it works. There is also a subgroup who, like one young man of personal acquaintance, has well over a thousand Facebook friends with whom he texts regularly. This very bright fellow, cannot, however, make even a business phone call because of paralyzing shyness. You may be able to spot someone like this in the interview process, and acquire a tech-savvy colleague who can solve problems independently. Just be prepared to help them develop their collaboration skills if that is what is needed.
Use these young talents with all their strengths and idiosyncrasies. They will repay your care and efforts.
Article by David Tucker – an experienced blog writer and editor. David currently works with Helpfulpapers.com – professional writing service, which specializes in various types of content solutions. David enjoys writing and it has been so ever since he became accustomed to pen and paper.
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