Part 2: On the Front Line By Laura Blakesley
Hiring Millennials seems to be the new buzz in the biz lately. We’ve heard from a lot of CEOs recently that they’re not quite sure how to work with, or relate to this vast generation (birth years of 1980-2000ish). Since the majority of the workforce will soon be Millennials, we have made it our mission to find out more about them.
An old friend of mine, Michelle Delillo, has been counseling Millennials for over 10 years. She’s basically on the front line, and, being a Millennial herself, has a lot of great insight on how to motivate and challenge someone from this generation. Michelle sat down with me to discuss “our generation” and the work force.
Q: We know that the info out there about this generation can be so varied. What is it about this generation?
A: This is a HUGE generation! Most people agree that children born between 1980 and 2000 are all part of this generation. People seem to lump all millennials together but that’s not something we should do…each person is different depending on their age, demographics, socio-economic status, parental involvement, and the opportunities afforded to them. This generation is so different because there are some Millennial parents with their own Millennial children. You don’t often see parents and their children sharing a generation. It’s just a large generation.
Q: What distinguishing factors of Millennials set them apart from other generations?
A: Millennials tend to be more socially savvy. They want info immediately, they have a desire to belong that is magnified by social media and the availability of information. They tend to question “why” more-so than older generations…they NEED to understand WHY so they have that connection to what they are doing. There used to be a more secretive approach to things, if you were asked to do something, you just did it. You didn’t ask questions. Millennials need to be able to buy in. This all transfers over to their work. If a business owner or hiring manager shares their goals and needs along with the reasoning behind it, a Millennial will have more buy-in and will be more likely to run with it. Even if it’s not something they are super-invested in, they will still do it because they feel that connection between the business owner and their vision of the company.
Q: Rumor has it that Millennials don’t have a lot of initiative…do you find that to be true?
A: Yes and no. It’s all in how something is approached. If a Millennial finds more meaning in something they are doing, they are more likely to run with it. Using phrases like “I need this because….” brings in that personal factor, that social connection that Millennials are so used to. In the past few years, online schools have become more and more prevalent…in talking to Millennials, most of them are not interested because they understand that their learning comes from more than just a book or an article. Most of what they learn comes from experience, classroom discussions, sharing, analyzing, and making connections. They thrive on relationships and are more likely to bond with a teacher who is in front of them, they’ll work harder and be more proactive. It’s all about the relationships and the buy-in. They also tend to assess things a little bit quicker compared to older generations…it’s the constant flow and availability of information. Millennials are NOT lazy. I know so many who are riding buses miles out of the way to attend a better school. That definitely shows initiative and drive.
Q: What, would you say, do Millennials value the most?
A: The same things that every other generation values! Family, love, belonging, future, independence, success, meaningful connections. Social media does not equal meaningful relationships FYI, and they understand that. Some of those things I listed have different definitions for Millennials, but they don’t do something just to do it. Like I had said before, they need to find meaningful connections and that will help them be more invested in the things they do. Religion still can play a role but they are more conscious about giving back and contributing in a meaningful way.
Q: What tips can you give to employers on how to better work with Millennials?
A: First of all, this is a HUGE population…learn how to relate to them and tap into their talents. Learn the lingo and about all the techy stuff that is out there now. A Millennial who is fresh out of college is going to be looking for a challenge and a variety of responsibilities. If they aren’t challenged, they will move on and look for the next challenge. Ask them for their opinion, gain their buy-in and they will not only be a loyal employee but they will exceed your expectations.
Q: What kinds of questions would you recommend an employer ask during the interview process?
A: Ask them about their thoughts and ideas. They are very interesting and in the “now.” What is their biggest concern? Their individual experiences will shape their responses…use that! Use their experience to bring in the new ideas. What would you like to learn from this position? Once they’re on board, ask them what is lacking in the company. What would they change or improve?
Q: Any other words of wisdom for all those business owners out there?
A: As long as a business owner shares their goals and needs with a Millennial, they will take that info and run with it. Even if it’s not something they’re super invested in, they’ll still do it because they understand it’s what’s better for the company and it’s what their boss expects of them (going back to the importance of relationships). They don’t want to fail and given that the real world is more competitive now than ever before, with a greater number of people attending college, they understand the need to stand out.
The more digging we do, the more we are finding that the generation gap between Millennials and previous generations would be so easily overcome if we can just understand more about each other. This vast generation is quickly taking over the work force, and with older generations coming closer to retirement, Millennials are bringing a fresh face to the business world. We often hear from business owners that they don’t have a positive view of this generation but we have found that businesses who are able to tap into this new wealth of knowledge are more competitive in today’s markets.
I’d like to thank Michelle for this wonderful insight. Every time I get together with her, meaningful discussion is sure to happen. Michelle, you’re a great friend and mentor!
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Preparing for Millennials Series…coming next month. And in case you missed it, check out our previous post in the series: Who Are the Millennials and Why Should We Care? written by our incredibly talented Nicole Riera.