As our series on generational differences rolls on, we’ve examined the workplace traits that separate the “matures,” the baby boomers and Generation X. For all their differences, though, they have one thing in common: They’re all trying to figure out Generation Y.
Born after 1980 and often referred to as the “millennials,” Generation Y is the source of a great deal of angst among business leaders today. But as generational expert Cam Marston says, things are not always what they seem.
“Their definitions of loyalty, time and success are often quite different from yours,” Marston writes in a recent article. “Rest assured, they do recognize all of these concepts and value them in very important ways. The key to your organization’s future success is understanding how the millennials view the world and using that knowledge to motivate them in a way that works.
“Here’s a hint,” Marston adds. “Meet them where they are and they will achieve your underlying goals; try to force them to fit your definitions and they will run for the door every time.”
So according to Marston, what sets the millennials apart?
- They’re individualist, yet with a group orientation.
- They’re more optimistic than Generation X.
- They’ve been well looked after — some would say “coddled” — for most of their lives.
- They are busy and stressed at a young age.
- They have a hard time focusing on “non-stimulating” things.
- They’ve been raised as their parents’ “friends.”
- They look at the future in the very short term.
- They are ambitious, yet they appear aimless.
And like the Xers, the millennials view time as a commodity they are unwilling to share or give away. As Marston explains, the millennials see work as “something to do between the weekends.”
So what does all of this mean? We’ll wrap things up tomorrow with some advice for all generations. We’ll discover that there is some middle ground … and plenty of room for everyone to succeed, despite their differences.