Everyone has had the “Millennial” discussion. You’ve heard the statistics: The ones that tell you how 50% of the workforce is currently Millennial, and how it will be 75% Millennial in just a few years. The ones that tell you how Millennials prefer to be communicated with. The ones that tell you about the consumption patterns, marriage choices, political views, and favorite television shows of Millennials.
Millennials make up a big generation. They encompass nearly two decades, and they are infiltrating the workforce – one that looks remarkably different than when the Baby Boomers entered decades ago.
Nothing More than a Distraction
I’m a Millennial – kind of. (I was born in 1981.) According to the Pew Research Center, that makes me a Millennial. According to other research, however, I’m part of Gen X. I don’t think my generation really matters as much as everyone else may think. Why? Because I’m different than many people my age, but also similar to many people my age. I’m also similar to people who are older than me, and similar to people who are younger than me.
Every day, something shiny and new pops up in this industry. Everyone wants to clamber over to it. It’s so new and shiny – I must have it!
At some point, however, we have to stop chasing every shiny new object that comes our way. It’s like the ongoing conversations we have about employer-Millennial issues.
Am I saying that we don’t need to talk about Millennials anymore? Nope. The statistics are great and sometimes helpful, but they are shiny objects and distractions – especially for small business owners and leaders who are trying to build stronger companies and get more out of their people.
Most integrators have less than 100 employees. Many firms have fewer than that. You don’t need a bunch of data to tell you how to lead Millennials. You need to be a leader. You need to talk to the people you hire and get to know them. You need to be open minded to embracing their strengths and making the most of the unique talents they bring to your organization.
I can understand a company hiring thousands of Millennials and its need to understand the entire demographic. We spend countless hours understanding customer demographics so we can sell to them – we should do the same with our people. If technology is really making our world more personal, accessible, and connected, however, then maybe we don’t need a bunch of so-called experts telling us how to engage an entire generation. Maybe we should use these great technologies to inspire our employees.
Leadership Makes a Difference
For as long as companies have existed, the best ones have always had the best leadership. The best ones have always figured out how to build employees who love what they do and who they do it for. Millennials may not be exactly the same as the generation before them, but that has a lot to do with the way the world has changed.
Want to get more from your Millennials? Talk to them, lead them, and develop them. Just like every generation before them, they will grow up and become the fussy older generation that overanalyzes tomorrow’s employees and today’s youth. —Dan Newman, Cofounder of V3*Broadsuite