Deconstructing Common Misconceptions

Millennials, born between about 1980 and 2000, represent a significant segment of the workforce (they are almost one third of our population) and differ dramatically from generations before them. So what shaped this misunderstood generation? Rapid accessibility and advancement of technology, of course. This is also a generation whose coming of age was during the Great Recession, in contrast to generations before, who lived through the longest economic “up cycle” in American history. So are they really just lazy and entitled? Here’s a look at the generation that has left its elders bewildered.

Self-Starting

This is the generation of latchkey kids, having come of age as digital natives and inheriting an economic and sociopolitical mess. While often misunderstood as selfish, this is an ambitious group who embraces entrepreneurialism and conceptual ownership of their professional roles and responsibilities. These are people who very much like the idea of having an impact on the world.

Resourceful

Millennials grew up as the Internet did. Never before has there been unfettered, real-time access to a literal world of information, all at your fingertips. Not only are millennials motivated, they know where and how to find information and resources, whether that is online research or outreach to expansive, global networks of other young people that are a few clicks away. The world is a smaller place for them, so problem-solving is looked at through a much different lens than in previous generations.

Culture-Sensitive

So much of the disruption in business management style in recent years is the result of the preferences and expectations of the new generation in the workforce. This does not necessitate setting up ping pong tables at the office, it means creating a culture of clear and consistent feedback, upward mobility, and flexible, results-oriented work environments that are less concerned with punching the clock from 9-5, and more focused on the merits of the work being done.

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Innovative

With a keen understanding of technology and its application across all aspects of life and business, millennials are innovating in every way. Products, services, social interactions; you name it, and millennials have found a way to disrupt the status quo. This perspective is invaluable when solving business problems. Need to shake things up and think outside the box? Ask a millennial.

Perpetually, Intentionally Evolving

Millennials see tremendous value and fulfillment in personal and professional development. This is the generation who has brought mindful leadership to the forefront of business practice. Likely another result of the access to information that they have grown up with, the desire to pursue personal growth and development is a considerable attribute. This is not a complacent crowd.

Financially Motivated

Millennials want to be successful, and they want to make money. So many of these people came out of college to enter a desperate job market, and an even worse overall economy. Living at mom and dad’s place until they are in their 30’s was never really their plan, so money talks. Most millennials understand the value of saving, protecting your credit, and responsible financial management. They also desire travel and the finer things in life. They are willing to work for it, but millennials want to be compensated for their efforts and impact on the organizations they work for.

Progress-Minded

Not surprisingly, working professional millennials are not complacent job-doers, just putting checks in boxes; they want opportunity and are willing to work to create it. They view their career choices as rungs on the ladder, and are always looking to make progress. While this has earned them a reputation of being frequent job-jumpers, it is often because they do not share the enthusiasm of boomers content with one job, staying there and working your way up, and retiring from a long career in one business. The appeal just isn’t there, and cost of living makes it impractical; millennials want to collect diverse experiences and move around to find what is best fit for them. And why shouldn’t they? They’ve got a lot to offer.