The Top Five Ways Your Organization Will Fail by Thinking Millennials are Like Every Other Generation

If it’s true that ignorance is bliss and that sometimes less is more, be prepared to have your socks shocked off your feet. Or something equally alarming. Why? Because as Millennials enter the workforce in record number, ignorance about what makes them unique is not bliss, and less information about how your organization needs to adapt is not more. Here’s why: Millennials are different from every other generation you’ve ever worked with, and the way you “do work” had better change as a result.

Here are the top five things your organization will face by failing to get to know the Millennials. Or worse, thinking they’re no different from the rest of your workers.

Incentives that motivated other employees will no longer work. Do you remember the days when a $5 gift card to a popular coffee shop (rhyming with Tarbucks) or a floating personal holiday won over the hearts and minds of your employees? Not so anymore. Millennials are motivated differently (http://www.forbes.com/sites/deniserestauri/2014/01/17/5-surprisingly-easy-ways-to-motivate-millennials-at-work/). They value flexibility, not a free cup of coffee. They value autonomy, not necessarily more free time. They like to work and like to contribute, so putting them to work in a rewarding environment may be all the incentive they need. Let them be in charge of a new project! Free coffee optional.

Money won’t make their world turn ‘round. Research has shown that Millennials value a balance between work and life much more than previous generations. If it’s a decision between longer hours in pursuit of a top-paying promotion, or skipping out a bit early for a 5:00pm Bikram yoga class, the yoga class will win nine times out of 10. Promotions and raises will almost universally matter less than the Millennials’ desire to make a difference and pursue personal interests. Businesses and organizations can no longer look to the power of the almighty dollar if creating loyalty and value is what they’re after. In the coming decade, it will take a lot more than money (https://www.xactlycorp.com/2013/10/18/motivating-millennials-it-takes-more-than-money/).

Warning: Culture crash ahead. Studies conducted on today’s changing workplace paint an ominous picture for tomorrow’s workforce. Some Baby Boomers are delaying retirement (http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2009/11/art3full.pdf?origin=publication_detail) to hold on to their jobs, which can result in culture clashes between the generations coming together in offices and organizations. Boomers may struggle to relate to the Millennials — a radically different generation — and rather than striving for common ground, opt to dig in their heels and feel resistant to change. What does this mean for businesses? Loss of productivity, mind share, and synergy.

Scarcity of leadership. For the remainder of Boomers who are opting for retirement, they leave in their place an increasing number of vacant management and leadership positions. The problem? Not enough GenXers to fill those positions and a lack of experienced Millennials to step in. Yet Millennials are eager to assume leadership roles and join the workforce with the expectation to do so. Be prepared to reconcile those expectations!

Your best and brightest will work for your competitor. If they feel misunderstood, overlooked or undervalued, chances are they won’t stick around. Millennials, though loyal to brands and beliefs, aren’t so loyal to the companies they work for. Especially when they’re not happy. Unless you want your top talent jumping ship every quarter to go work for your competition, make the effort to learn more about Millennials (http://www.millennialsatwork.com/) and what makes them tick.

Contact us (http://www.millennialsatwork.com/) for more information about what’s ahead for business as Millennials enter the scene.

Patience May Be A Virtue But Can It Become A Skill?

One of the self-reported challenges Millennials face in the workplace is a lack of patience. They are keenly aware that having limited experience stymies the pace at which they desire to advance in their careers. One of my interviewees commented, “From a cognitive perspective I know that I am young and shouldn’t have such grandiose expectations of how fast I will move up but emotionally it makes me crazy that I have to wait for waiting sake.”

Waiting is something this generation is not accustomed to. They have grown up in a world in which they can get virtually anything from anywhere within 24 hours. More importantly, they have learned that they can advance at the pace they want. They master video games from level to level on their own clock and take Advance Placement classes in high school to accelerate their education. They are­–to some degree–in control of the speed of their own progress.

It is the loss of control that contributes to a lack of patience. Unfortunately, management sees a lack of patience as inattention to detail, poor focus, and entitlement. I have heard managers quip, “They [Millennials] come in here and expect to be CEO within a year.”

In our next book Millennials@Work (forthcoming 2013), my colleagues and I suggest that practicing patience is an important skill for Millennials who desire to advance more quickly. Interestingly, patience is usually defined by impatience. That is to say that when we talk about being patient we are talking about not being something else. So what does it mean to practice patience? In their research, Blount and Janicik[1] suggest that patient people differ from impatient people in three key areas; 1) the ability to evaluate why they are having to wait, 2) understanding other people’s responsibility for the delay, 3) and taking responsibility to adapt to the situation.

Millennials are not thrilled about it but to a great degree they do understand why they have to wait for advancement opportunities. However, understanding why managers are not more proactive in sponsoring advancement opportunity is difficult. Like I said earlier, Millennials are used to moving at their own pace. domain list The key for Millennials practicing patience is to take responsibility for adapting to the situation in which they find themselves.


[1] Blount, S., & Janicik, G. A. (2001). When plans change: Examining how people evaluate timing changes in work organizations. Academy of Management.the Academy of Management Review, 26(4), 566-585.

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Millennial Culture Shock

It became very clear to me early in the study that Millennials experience culture shock when they transition from college life to work. While in school they eagerly anticipate making the transition into a career but when they finally get there it is not entirely what they expected. Christine Hassler, author of the 20 Something Manefesto, refers to the experience as Expectation Hangover®––a group of undesirable feelings that arise when a desired result is not met. A desired result could be an early promotion, recognition, reward, or all of the above.

Based on the challenges Millennials face, it is obvious that work isn’t all they thought it would be. I believe it is more than a desired result not being met. I think the greatest and yet most basic expectation Millennials have is for the authority figures in their lives to be supporting, affirming, and committed to their success. For many, work is the first environment they encounter in which they do not feel supported, affirmed, or that someone cares about their success. While other generations may have also experienced a form of culture shock upon entering the workforce, I would argue that it is more acute with Millennials because they have grown up in a world committed to their success. In a commencement speech that went viral, David McCullough skillfully and vividly describes such a world:

“Contrary to what your U9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.

Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, and your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet.”

The theme of Mr. McCullough’s homily was, You Are Not Special, Because Everyone Is. When I watched the video I was not surprised to see students smile and laugh as he quasi-roasted them. I only wish the camera had been on the parents.

I was not surprised by the graduates’ response because I am sure that Mr. McCullough is considered to be a wonderful teacher, has the students’ best interest in mind, and is perceived to be someone who is for them. Millennials are willing to hear and receive the truth when there is a supportive environment.

When I asked my research sample to respond to the statement, “Millennials are the most sheltered, structured, and rewarded generation to enter the workforce,” the overwhelming majority agreed and they did not perceive it to be a negative thing. They enjoyed growing up in an environment that cheered them on and they miss it but that does not mean that they will not make the transition.

We can equip your Millennials with skills to overcome culture shock, effectively integrate into, and thrive in your organization.

The Return of the Millennials

About eight years ago, the HR world was buzzing about Millennials (Gen Y). Research on the subject was just appearing and there were articles in the business press, conference presentations and Gen Y consultants sprouting up. 60 Minutes even produced a segment called “The Millennials are Coming.” (It sounds like the title from a bad horror movie.) And while HR departments seemed interested, CEOs didn’t. You see, it wasn’t really a problem yet for organizations. Then, the recession hit and sidelined the topic for a while. The Baby Boomers postponed retirement and there just wasn’t as strong a need to focus on integrating younger twenty-something employees into the workforce when you could just keep your older, wiser employees around a little longer.

But now that’s changing. A gradual recovery in the economy has allowed some Boomers to choose to retire, and age has forced others. Most corporations aren’t on wild hiring sprees, but when they do hire, it tends to be younger workers – Millennials. Many organizations have found that they aren’t ready for the shift. Because Boomers have dominated the workforce for the past 30 to 40 years, they generally set the culture for the organization. domain hosting . Gen X wasn’t large enough to throw their weight around and change things, but Millennials are. In fact, they will be the largest generation in history, and the business environment that was set up by the Boomers may not work for them.

Failing to be Millennial-ready is already causing big problems for some companies. One organization we recently spoke with has about sixteen thousand employees, but handed out over forty thousand W-2s at the end of the year. That’s a lot of turnover – nearly three to one. All that turnover is incredibly expensive. It happens because Millennials aren’t afraid to leave a job that’s not working for them. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly 40% of Millennials would rather have no job at all than a job they didn’t like. They simply want work to be fulfilling, and many have a safety net and can move back in with their parents.

I can hear some Boomers out there right now grumbling that we’re all doomed and that these ‘kids’ don’t know how good they have it – but the older generations raised them.  They were taught that they could do anything they want. oracle cloud . They were taught to look for meaning. relevant domains . domain dns Millennials are simply behaving consistently with the beliefs they’ve been given their entire lives. whois directory In fact, in the 1960′s, Boomers were causing the same turbulence as they entered the workplace and wanted different things from work than their parents.

The way I see it, companies have a couple choices. expired domains . They can ignore the issue and just hope that Millennials learn to fall in line, or they can adapt. domain list . Like it or not, companies who ignore major changes don’t seem to last very long. A failure to adapt to the next generation is going to mean higher turnover, and worse – your organization is going to see all of the critical, hard-won expertise evaporate when the older workers decide to leave. No one lives forever, and your retiring Boomers are not going to pass on their knowledge to younger employees they don’t have a rapport with or who are just passing through the revolving door.

So, CEOs are starting to pay attention because this time the threat isn’t just theoretical. Boomers are retiring and Millennials are the ones replacing them. domain archive Your organization can either enjoy its final golden years and fade into obscurity, or figure out how to adapt and harness the power of an energetic, imaginative, (and yes) hard-working young generation who is aiming even higher than we did.

Things to watch for in your business:
• Turnover rates for new hires are larger than normal
• Complaints by older workers about young employees
• Average age of your employees is over 45 (could indicate large numbers of imminent retirements)
• HR policies and hiring practices that have remained largely unchanged for ten years or more
• Lack of adequate new-employee training and development programs

What Do Millennials Think About What Older Generations Think About Them?

Commercials characterize them, cartoonists poke fun at them, researchers study them, marketers target them, and managers scrutinize them.  While the Baby Boomers and GenX’ers have a case of attention envy, Millennials don’t seem to be fazed. Not only are they not put-off, they are amused.

When my colleagues and I wrote Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce our aim was to demystify the challenges managers face with younger workers.  It caught me by surprise when forward-thinking MaryAnn Baumgarten of Microsoft and Ron Weber of Schneider Electric called me to talk about making a presentation on how managers perceive working with younger workers––to an audience of their younger workers.

I had spoken to thousands of managers who related to my message, but I was not sure how the Millennials would respond. relevant domains I was used to affable audiences filled with laughter and affirming nods. Would my new audience wince and roll their eyes or worse just play on their smart phones? Just think about it… “Hello, my name is Chip Espinoza and I am here to tell you that managers perceive your generation to be entitled, self-absorbed, defensive, abrasive, yada-yada-yada.” Yikes.

Microsoft decided to add my topic into what they call their Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) Capstone program. domain archive expidoms . domain archive I presented one session of a five-day event offering a variety of topics. I was blown away when MaryAnn sent me the participant evaluations. A question on it reads, “Please provide your level of agreement with the session CONTENT providing value to your personal and professional development.” My topic received the highest score. I know it was the topic because I failed to get the highest presenter score. Perhaps that is because I am the idiot who took a MacBook Pro to Microsoft to make a presentation. whois directory Don’t think for a minute that my Millennial audience let it slide.

At Red Tree, we have now fully developed the topic into a training program entitledMillennials@Work. I have had the privilege of presenting to audiences of Millennials around the world and I never cease to be amazed at the receptivity, level of engagement, and-post event remarks like these:

“Even though his topic was about our generation, I feel like it was very eye-opening to hear perceptions that older generations have toward us and to learn how I can work with my co-workers more effectively.”

“Spoke directly to me as I see generational problems that face us on a daily basis at work. This has changed how I approach my relationships with older co-workers, and I have found that I don’t get as frustrated because I now know that they do not understand where I am coming from.”

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The Top Five Ways Your Organization Will Fail by Thinking Millennials are Like Every Other Generation

If it’s true that ignorance is bliss and that sometimes less is more, be prepared to have your socks shocked off your feet. Or something equally alarming. Why? Because as Millennials enter the workforce in record number, ignorance about what makes them unique is not bliss, and less information about how your organization needs to adapt is not more. Here’s why: Millennials are different from every other generation you’ve ever worked with, and the way you “do work” had better change as a result. Here are the top five things your organization will face by failing to get to know the Millennials. Or worse, thinking they’re no different from the rest of your workers. Incentives that motivated other employees will no longer work. Do you remember the days when a $5 gift card to a popular coffee shop (rhyming with Tarbucks) or a floating personal holiday won over the hearts and minds of your employees? Not so anymore. Millennials are motivated differently (http://www.forbes.com/sites/deniserestauri/2014/01/17/5-surprisingly-easy-ways-to-motivate-millennials-at-work/). They value flexibility, not a free cup of coffee. They value autonomy, not necessarily more free time. They like to work and like to contribute, so putting them to work in a rewarding environment may be all the incentive they need. Let them be in charge of a new project! Free coffee optional. Money won’t make their world turn ‘round. Research has shown that Millennials value a balance between work and life much more than previous generations. If it’s a decision between longer hours in pursuit of a top-paying promotion, or skipping out a bit early for a 5:00pm Bikram yoga class, the yoga class will... read more

Patience May Be A Virtue But Can It Become A Skill?

One of the self-reported challenges Millennials face in the workplace is a lack of patience. They are keenly aware that having limited experience stymies the pace at which they desire to advance in their careers. One of my interviewees commented, “From a cognitive perspective I know that I am young and shouldn’t have such grandiose expectations of how fast I will move up but emotionally it makes me crazy that I have to wait for waiting sake.” Waiting is something this generation is not accustomed to. They have grown up in a world in which they can get virtually anything from anywhere within 24 hours. More importantly, they have learned that they can advance at the pace they want. They master video games from level to level on their own clock and take Advance Placement classes in high school to accelerate their education. They are­–to some degree–in control of the speed of their own progress. It is the loss of control that contributes to a lack of patience. Unfortunately, management sees a lack of patience as inattention to detail, poor focus, and entitlement. I have heard managers quip, “They [Millennials] come in here and expect to be CEO within a year.” In our next book Millennials@Work (forthcoming 2013), my colleagues and I suggest that practicing patience is an important skill for Millennials who desire to advance more quickly. Interestingly, patience is usually defined by impatience. That is to say that when we talk about being patient we are talking about not being something else. So what does it mean to practice patience? In their research, Blount and Janicik[1] suggest that patient people differ from impatient people... read more

Millennial Culture Shock

It became very clear to me early in the study that Millennials experience culture shock when they transition from college life to work. While in school they eagerly anticipate making the transition into a career but when they finally get there it is not entirely what they expected. Christine Hassler, author of the 20 Something Manefesto, refers to the experience as Expectation Hangover®––a group of undesirable feelings that arise when a desired result is not met. A desired result could be an early promotion, recognition, reward, or all of the above. Based on the challenges Millennials face, it is obvious that work isn’t all they thought it would be. I believe it is more than a desired result not being met. I think the greatest and yet most basic expectation Millennials have is for the authority figures in their lives to be supporting, affirming, and committed to their success. For many, work is the first environment they encounter in which they do not feel supported, affirmed, or that someone cares about their success. While other generations may have also experienced a form of culture shock upon entering the workforce, I would argue that it is more acute with Millennials because they have grown up in a world committed to their success. In a commencement speech that went viral, David McCullough skillfully and vividly describes such a world: “Contrary to what your U9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in... read more

The Return of the Millennials

About eight years ago, the HR world was buzzing about Millennials (Gen Y). Research on the subject was just appearing and there were articles in the business press, conference presentations and Gen Y consultants sprouting up. 60 Minutes even produced a segment called “The Millennials are Coming.” (It sounds like the title from a bad horror movie.) And while HR departments seemed interested, CEOs didn’t. You see, it wasn’t really a problem yet for organizations. Then, the recession hit and sidelined the topic for a while. The Baby Boomers postponed retirement and there just wasn’t as strong a need to focus on integrating younger twenty-something employees into the workforce when you could just keep your older, wiser employees around a little longer. But now that’s changing. A gradual recovery in the economy has allowed some Boomers to choose to retire, and age has forced others. Most corporations aren’t on wild hiring sprees, but when they do hire, it tends to be younger workers – Millennials. Many organizations have found that they aren’t ready for the shift. Because Boomers have dominated the workforce for the past 30 to 40 years, they generally set the culture for the organization. domain hosting . Gen X wasn’t large enough to throw their weight around and change things, but Millennials are. In fact, they will be the largest generation in history, and the business environment that was set up by the Boomers may not work for them. Failing to be Millennial-ready is already causing big problems for some companies. One organization we recently spoke with has about sixteen thousand employees, but handed out over forty... read more

What Do Millennials Think About What Older Generations Think About Them?

Commercials characterize them, cartoonists poke fun at them, researchers study them, marketers target them, and managers scrutinize them.  While the Baby Boomers and GenX’ers have a case of attention envy, Millennials don’t seem to be fazed. Not only are they not put-off, they are amused. When my colleagues and I wrote Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce our aim was to demystify the challenges managers face with younger workers.  It caught me by surprise when forward-thinking MaryAnn Baumgarten of Microsoft and Ron Weber of Schneider Electric called me to talk about making a presentation on how managers perceive working with younger workers––to an audience of their younger workers. I had spoken to thousands of managers who related to my message, but I was not sure how the Millennials would respond. relevant domains I was used to affable audiences filled with laughter and affirming nods. Would my new audience wince and roll their eyes or worse just play on their smart phones? Just think about it… “Hello, my name is Chip Espinoza and I am here to tell you that managers perceive your generation to be entitled, self-absorbed, defensive, abrasive, yada-yada-yada.” Yikes. Microsoft decided to add my topic into what they call their Microsoft Academy for College Hires (MACH) Capstone program. domain archive expidoms . domain archive I presented one session of a five-day event offering a variety of topics. I was blown away when MaryAnn sent me the participant evaluations. A question on it reads, “Please provide your level of agreement with the session CONTENT providing value to your personal and professional development.” My topic received... read more
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