I am a 30-year old self-employed consultant and YES … I am a Millennial! By definition, Millennials (Generation Y) are qualified as 18- to 32-year olds and are typically considered “entitled”; Part of a generation of “yes we can” and not enough “no, not your turn.” According to an article by CIO.com, a common myth the Baby Boomer generation embodies is: “Millennials are not like us. I can’t relate to them. They’re spoiled and don’t want to pay their dues.”
From my personal experience this myth is entirely false. In 2009, I was working for a small boutique Government Relations firm as an Associate in Connecticut; it was a rewarding and wonderful job. I had a willingness to do what it took on behalf of my clients, never complained about working late or taking on a heavy workload. I most certainly was paying my dues! In the summer of 2009, I wanted a change so I quit my job, packed my bags, and moved to Washington DC.
I moved to Washington and am still here, just shy of five years later, with a small business that is blossoming and having learned more than I could have ever imagined about myself and my peers.
Throughout my career, each generation before me had the willingness and patience to do two very important things: listen and teach. This is what makes not only a great boss but a great mentor. A Partner at my former firm taught me one of life’s great lessons, he taught me to remember that every person you meet has potential and you never know where they will end up in five or ten years. Treat everyone with respect and in return, they will do the same.
I would encourage the Baby Boomer and Gen X generations to take the Millennials out to lunch and get to know them. I think you will have more in common than you can imagine and we might just surprise you. Oh, and don’t worry, we won’t keep our cell phone on the table!
The Big Question still remains: what can I (as a Millennial or GenX/Baby Boomer) do to debunk the myth and make changes individually/within my company?
- Embrace technology: Empower the Millennials to assist in training staff.
- Encourage one-on-one experiences: Create opportunities for Millennials and managers to interact one-on-one showcasing the power of person-to-person interaction sans technology (the old school way!).
- Be flexible to change and ask questions: This is applicable to Millennials and managers – we can learn from one another. For example, managers and Millennials desire a great work/life balance, it likely just means something different to each age group.
At our core, Millennials are hardworking individuals who want respect and recognition. We don’t need our name plastered on a billboard, but we certainly don’t want to go unnoticed; this is most likely true for managers of earlier generations. Perhaps the ideas mentioned above can at least springboard a conversation at your company or within your staff. All companies and personnel find themselves at transitional points, but they don’t have to be roadblocks for success.