The Experienced Exec’s Guide To Corporate Millennials

How do Millennials differ from older executives?  

The 1946-54 Baby Boomers are generally of retirement age now.  They had great employment prospects and opportunities to prosper.  They were basically optimistic and forward-looking.

The second cohort of Boomers (1955-65) had fewer opportunities and resulted in an “After me, you come first” attitude.  From a management perspective they were much more self-focused, which is seldom good for business.

When the so-called Generation X came along (1966-76) they were exposed to increased levels of divorce, and plenty of daycare.  They generally had their own keys for the house, often preparing their own food, and frequently lacked parental supervision for large parts of the day.  Consequently they have high levels of skepticism and a “What’s in it for me?” attitude.  Although well-educated, they entered the workforce with a great deal of pragmatism and caution.  They tend to steer away from risk.

 Boomer_and_Millennial - Older business man and younger employee

What do Millennials offer?

When Generation Y (1977-94), or “Millennials“, arrived on the scene they were incredibly sophisticated and technologically savvy.  Having been inundated by advertising pitches and traditional sales techniques since birth, they developed immunity to it all.  They have very little brand loyalty; seldom get “married” to a concept; and they engage in very flexible thinking.

They are particularly clever at finding new avenues to approach potential clients; advertising pitches that come out of left field; business strategies that seem to make no sense to their older counterparts, but are astonishingly effective.

This is a generation which has experienced information delivery in an entirely new way and they accept advertising only on their own terms.  There are hundreds of cable TV channels, satellite radio, “E-zines”, and most importantly of all, a pervasive Internet.  “Traditional” approaches are not a priority for them, and they think in innovative ways.


Showing the ropes

Without being disingenuous, it is up to the older generation to teach the Millennials among your work staff the ways of your organization, remembering that with as much knowledge and technical expertise they possess coming into their position, their talents must be harnessed, or connected to the corporate “real world” in order to create a proper synergy between the two and successful working environment.


Adapt and integrate

If you’re not a Millennial yourself, you are likely to be a late Boomer or Gen X member, both of which are often known for reluctance to embrace change.  Ideally, building an integrated, cooperative team is the most effective way to progress.

Boomer_and_Millennial - Older business man and group of younger employeesBoomer managers must look at the big picture and make sure that everybody on the team is benefiting.  Gen X managers should fight the urge to figure out every single detail in advance.  This can be hard to do because it’s in our very natures, but Millennials should not be perceived as a threat.  They only want a chance to prove themselves, just like we did when we started out.

However, despite their innovative propensities, in many ways they’re still generally inexperienced. You certainly don’t want to stifle their creativity, but you do want to target it in the right direction.  Consider Thomas Edison, who learned the hard way with his electric generators that they must have governors or they will run wildly out of phase and cause massive damage.


Passing the baton

Technology seems to take center stage within the Millennial group; they intimately understand social media and how it can be used for benefit on command.  Perhaps comparative to a person with a complete set of functional power tools walking into our 1839 Blacksmith’s Shop.

Alternatively, you must use your skills to make sure that they understand the essentials of your organization and business in general.  You must impress upon them that the client or customer is the most important part of the business, and that technology, albeit significant, is but only a portion of the equation.  They should understand that if you don’t have satisfied customers, you don’t have a business.


The Takeaway

Teaching Millennials about customer relations, civility, and quality is essential. Incorporating raw talent and a strong penchant for technology will certainly serve them well, yet ultimately they must learn to deliver what the customer ordered; and if their savvy enables them to get there quicker, then you will all benefit.

Bring them into the fold, and make them an integral part of the team.  Begin to blur the generational line, because you are all now on the same team, regardless of age or generational gaps.  By teaching, you will learn that we are all stronger together.

By Fred Coon, CEO


Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives move up in their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200

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