The Millenial Resource Network

Welcome to The Millenial Resource Network, an online resource for people of all generations to learn about the Millenial Generation.

Millenials will find links, articles, and blog posts mainly written by other Millenials which will show them how to get along in a work place still dominated by older generations. Non-Millenials will be able to use those same resources to gain insight into the mind of a Millenial and the best way to deal with them in the "real world."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I have questions, who's got answers?

When people speak about Gen Y, I typically have 2 reactions.  First I wonder how some 40-50 year old can even claim to be an expert in how to deal with Gen Y.  Second I think, GREAT just what the world needs another Gen Y "sucks" or Gen Y is "great" expert.  Now this is not to say that any of the people are wrong for saying what they are saying or speaking their minds and floating opinions like gospel... I am definitely one of those people.  However today I would like to take the first step to stop being one of those people.  Today I won't post attributes or reasons why Gen Y is great or why other Generations think we suck.  I won't even give explanations on how to help "deal" with Gen Y.  I think those bases are covered pretty well.  Instead today I will create a blog post comprised entirely (except for this intro bit) of questions and short explanatory notes.  The reason I want to do this is to move the discussion forward... I think it is high time we got off the what's and started dealing with the why's and the how's.  So without further ado... 5 questions which I hope will help move the Gen Y conversation forward...

1) Who are we talking about when we refer to Gen Y? Read this by Josip Petrusa and you might see that there are several sub groups and clear distinctions in the 20+year span of Gen Y. We are not a very uniform generation...

2) Why do you think we feel so freaking entitled? Everyone seems to say it and give examples of our entitlement, but no one explains WHY we are entitled.

3) Why do you think that we aren't so entitled?  The opposite question for the GEN Y activists out there, we provide description but no method...

4) Why does everyone think communication is the key? Elaborate... E-mail is communication, texting is communication, Tweets are communication, phone calls are communication... we get communication, so that clearly can't be the key.

5) Why are we talking about this? If all roads lead to employee engagement then Gen Y is either a distraction or a mirror.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Won't sell 'em no dreams, but the inspiration is free..."

If you are active in the Gen Y/Millennial realm you have no doubt seen this article in the NY Times... and if you are a Gen Y/Millennial you are not really happy about how this article portrays our generation.  I mean really, first of all turning your nose up at a $40K job is THIS ONE GUY'S decision, it certainly isn't indicative of the views and characteristics of an entire generation.  Moving beyond my first-blush irritation with the slant of the article it got me thinking about what I had read about the optimistic views of Millennials and I wondered should Gen Y be bearish or bullish on the American Dream?

After turning this thought over in my head time and time again I reached a conclusion, an epiphany really, achieving the American Dream depends on what the dream means to you.  The NY Times writer clearly moves along the lines that financial success and materialism are the American Dream.  His view isn't wrong either Lifestyle matters after all. In the last 50 some odd years since the end of the Great Depression, Americans have been both the Jones' and the family trying to keep up with them.  Now I would like to point out to all the Gen Y antagonists that the 50 year run I am describing falls clearly within the realm and financial decision making time line of the Boomers.  However so as not to turn this into a Gen Y vs. Boomer debate, I will concede that Gen Y certainly profited from this aggressive pursuit of the American Dream by our parents.  In fact I will even go so far as to suggest it is because Gen Y was so passive in LIVING THE DREAM that many of them (us) aren't quite as fully prepared for the "real" world as we let on.  As a result a lot of Gen Y lives at home with Mom and Dad, still being a part of the American Dream, without ever having to go out and achieve it.  And before the chorus of "not me, I worked hard, I struggled, I pay my own bills" starts let me just add that there isn't anything wrong with living at home.  The "real" world is too hard for EVERYONE right now, yet alone someone with no money, no job, no experience, high debt, and whatever the hell other millstone you may have tied to you.  Which are "real" world problems. These "real" problems which people tell you aren't really that big a deal are being exacerbated by the reality that your boomer parents can't afford to retire.  This means that you can't get a job, because no one can move up in their current company and/or you are competing against people with fiftyleven times the experience as you because of all the Boomers and Gen Xers out of work.  So you become bearish on the whole thing and you start to realize that the American Dream has turned into your personal American Nightmare.  1, 2, Freddy's coming for you... and just like in Nightmare on Elm Street, if you die in this Dream you die for real... or do you?

Well as the second writer suggests, if you are like most Gen Y, you eventually realize you won't die at all with this iteration of the American Dream.  In fact the American Dream isn't dying or becoming more elusive either.  You are young.  You are healthy.  You are smart.  You are energetic and passionate and driven.  You are bound and determined to fix the flaws of society and the inequities of the world. Optimism swells inside you, the world is a messed up place but you think it can be fixed.  As a result of this rising tide feeling you become bullish on the idea of the American Dream. You see past the Lifestyle Branding aspects of the Dream to the deeper core value of freedom to make your own way in this world.  You see how the American Dream affords you the opportunity to be down to your last dime and bounce back like it never happened.  As your mind races through the greater inspirations you hit your own epiphany...

To me you should be bearish on the American Dream as a Lifestyle Brand, but be bullish on being inspired by the American Dream...

What are your thoughts on the American Dream?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Millennial Leadership Model

Recently I read this essay by fellow New Englander and Blogger Dave Ursillo. The point of his post for those who don't hyperlink, is that because of the current great recession the Gen Y/Millennial group will start their careers in an impaired position. As a result of starting so far behind, they will face a leadership gap as too few Millennials will be able to rapidly ascend to the highest ranks in an organization, where "leadership" is supposed to happen. His essay and my immediate response along with a this post on my "Professional blog" got me thinking about Millennial Leadership and my thoughts led me to one macro-level question...

What will Millennial leadership look like in the future?
Leadership in the future will look a lot like what it does today. A few people at the top making decisions and choosing the direction for the masses. As it were humans have been plagued by this irrational need to have someone tell them what to do for a long time as Thomas Paine points out in his essay "Common Sense" (A must read for all generations, but Millennials specifically). Millennials for all their spunk and "never-trust-anyone-older-than-30" Planter of the Apes type bravado will still continue to look to others for direction and leadership. As a result leadership will look much like the same as it does today, on the surface. However below the surface, leadership will be like nothing we've ever seen before, because it will become transparent.

In the world of today leaders are allowed to be mysterious because we assume decision makers have more or better information than we do. As a result we assume that their choices in leadership reflect that they have more information or a part of the story we aren't privy too. However there is tons of evidence to suggest that just isn't the case. Right off the top of my head, and I will attempt to be extremely bi-partisan here, I can say that Obama's handling of the current oil spill shows he doesn't have any more information than the rest of us. The same way W. Bush had no more information about what was happening post-Katrina than we did. Now while we can all blame the MEDIA for a lot of things. The oil gusher video-feed and 24hour news during Katrina tell us all the information we needed to know... The situation is/was bad and not much leadership is/was taking place. However the fact remains that in these scenarios we could all see how leaders weren't getting the job done, hence leadership transparency.  As technology continues to push us more towards "INSTANITY" (my term to describe the fact that I can't go 2 minutes without checking, Twitter, FB, the news, or my e-mail), the role and effectiveness of leadership will become crystal clear.

Now the question transitions from what will leadership look like, to where will leadership come from?

Well the simple answer is leadership will come from everywhere. In my thesis on leadership, yes I wrote a thesis on leadership, I argue that anywhere strategic resources are being used, there you have leadership. Today we define strategic resources quite basically as people and money. Gen Y however is making it more than evident that information is the resource that links the other resources of people and money together. However technology makes everyone both a creator and miner of that information even if they have no clue what to do with it. For example, Paul Sparrow writes a lot of scholarly articles about information overload, that too much information is coming in and clouding our ability to sift through and drowning leadership. I argue that is only true in as much as the current crop of Baby boomer leaders were not raised in an overloaded environment i.e. have no no clue what to do with it, where Millennials have been immersed in information all their lives. Think about it, the interweb, e-mail, smartphones and constant connectivity are all products of Boomer innovation, but utilized and improved to perfection by Gen X and Gen Y. Which brings us to how crowd source, "the cloud", and social media are streamlining and filtering the information for future leaders, creating an encyclopedia of leadership. Therefore allowing leadership to come from all over. However, while leadership will come from all over, true Millennial leaders will be the ones most adept at using the transparent information for the betterment of others. Essentially they will become the embodiment of Umair Haque's Efficient Community Hypothesis, and Betterment theory, and I for one think that could be a great thing!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reconsidering the differences... and fixing the problems.

Initially, and I mean as it relates to the inception of this blog, there seemed to be a white wash of anti-Millennial/Gen Y sentiment in the world. However, at present there seems to be substantial and growing opposition to the anti-millennial sentiment. More importantly the blog-o-sphere and Twitterverse are facing a deluge of blogs and articles making the claim that the generations aren't that different at all. Just this morning I read a blog post titled The Gen Y Myth and it got me thinking if this whole Gen Y being different is really real?

To answer my own question, I have to say No. Gen Y isn't that different from any previous generation. I mean when you sit down to read the general complaints about Gen Y, as the author of the Gen Y Myth did, you start to see commonality not uniqueness. More over when you look at the survey response from Pat S. that was the subject of my previous post and the incredibly data/information rich white paper by Millennial Inc it seems that the needs, wants, and motivators of Gen Y aren't really that ground breaking. Good jobs, stable jobs, and bosses who care about them sound less like generational issues and more like professional and managerial issues we all deal with, which clearly echoes the sentiments put down in the Gen Y Myth. Most importantly those are the very same issues that many in corporations have been reluctant to address because there hasn't been the level of disruption in the status quo that there is today. Thanks economy!

So what should happen next, how do you fix it?

When I was first asked that question on Twitter I was flippant in answering. I believe my exact response was, "If I knew I would have a job, or at least be rich." However what should happen next is that HR should take up the job. HR professionals should strip away the generational stereotypes and demographic grouping (which for a unit that is supposed to celebrate diversity, they seem to not handle this wrinkle very well) and get at the root of the problems. I argue that once they do they will find that the problems of the generations clashing, as I like to call it, are really problems of corporations not being sure how to handle: innovation, management, talent management, employee engagement, diversity, and the list goes on and on. However it isn't that HR can't handle these problems, and I am by no means suggesting that since academic HR has been tackling these very topics for decades. Where HR really has a problem is that now the academic theory of these topics has to be put into practice at EVERY corporation and not just at the limited few that have been progressive already(e.g. Google and Best Buy). Additionally even for the progressive HR companies, it is no longer functional to be progressive in one area, HR has to be progressive in all areas. Compound that with the idea that while the stereotyped differences between the generations may not exists, the technological and communication differences between them are real. Now also complicate it a little more and consider that HR is responsible for the least predictable type of corporate capital there is, the HUMAN BEING, and it is easy to see that this isn't going to be an easy climb.

Many companies will try and fail to blend these elements together, many more won't even try and will just fail (Big Finance Banks, I am looking right at you). However a select few will try, and fail. Then try again and fail again, and so on and so on until unbeknown to them they succeeded, but they will continue to try and continue to fail even after success. Why? because that is the mission of HR. In order to succeed, they have to constantly manage talent, be innovative, ignite and manage change, handle diversity and engage the workforce. However until everyone in the corporate world from the CEOs on down figures out that is how you ensure success, people will just keep blaming Generational differences!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Millennial Survey... first response

About a week ago I was reading some various blogs and contemplating the validity of my own. I then realized that what seems to be lacking in the blogosphere and twitterverse is some honest answers from those in the trenches. I mean Boomers who are hiring (or would be if their companies were hiring) and Millennials hitting the job market. This got me motivated to create and impromptu survey style interview of Millennials I know who have just entered and or are just entering the job market.

The following is the first survey response I have received. It is from PAT S. and he will go on to tell you what he thinks about starting work as a new Millennial:

How old are you? Where do you go to school? What is your major? When do you expect to graduate?

I am 21, I go to the University of Arizona, my major is business management and I expect to graduate in December of this year.

What are your plans after graduation? Travel? Grad School? Job Market? Or do you have a job already lined up?

My plans after school is to try and get a job, I have little intention of trying to go to grad school because I figure if I can find a job in a couple years I will be at nearly the same place I would be if I simply stayed in school. I do not have a job lined up but I have a couple promising opportunities with different companies that may end up offering me a job.

What do you think of the job market that exists today?

The job market today is definitely better than last year; however I still think there is a big question mark as to how easy it will be to get a job in the current market. Yet, I am confident when I truly begin my job search I will find a company that fits with what I am looking to do.

How many of your friends that are graduating have jobs? (rough percent estimate) Would you say they love their jobs? What do they complain about the most regarding their job? What do they rave about the most regarding their job?

I would say that roughly 60% of my friends that are graduating have jobs so far. Some of them really do love the opportunity that the job holds but I wouldn’t say that any of them love their current entry level positions. Most of my friends that have jobs their only complaint are the switch from college to main stream society, in the sense that they are working a ton of hours and are not having nearly as much free time as they used to in college. They all rave about how much they are getting paid because when you come straight out of college you don’t really have any concept of what money is besides that part time job.

What are your professors teaching you and your classmates about getting a job in the current labor market of today? Have you taken any of their advice? Do you find their advice useful?

Most of my professors gave their suggestions about getting a job between the career fairs on campus and various connections they have or other of their colleagues may have. They talk mostly about being flexible because companies are looking to hire college grads because we are flexible and eager to learn as compared to someone who has been tenured at a company and will be resistant to any change in the organization. They also suggest talking to as many people as possible including family friends and especially recruits in order to gauge their feedback in terms of how to go about searching for your ideal job. I have tried to take their advice when I was looking for an internship and for the most part it has been useful, the problem that I found is that I need to get paid for my internship and there are not all that many internships that pay.

What type of company are you looking to work for?

I am looking for a company that really will invest in me and develop me both personally and professionally. I want a company that will make me work hard however that I will find it rewarding in the end either with a pay raise or simple career development. I need a company that offers some kind of benefits for me and also a company that I agree with what they are trying to do or sell. For example I would never work for Phillip Morris because I don’t want anyone to smoke. So in general I want a place that will make me work hard but will be rewarding in the end.

Are you looking for core values? Size? Pay rate? Industry? Flexibility? Career progression? In other words, what would drive you to work for one company and not another?

I would like to start in a big company so I can understand the ins and outs of corporate America. In doing that I do not have a preference of size however flexibility would be ideal considering if I am flexible I would like my company to be willing to do the same. I also want a company that will offer a solid training program that will enhance my skills both with the company in general and the outside business world. If a company is flexible pays competitively and enhances my career I would enjoy working for them. Preferably in some kind of sales position due to the challenge that each client will offer. As I said earlier the industry also matters I want to “believe” in what the company sells.

What do you think your first job will be like in terms of responsibility, engagement (your level of interest), and your satisfaction with it?

I think my first job will at first be many new things all at once that are being thrown at me. However, as I understand my job function I am pretty confident that it will become easier for me. I also believe that initially I will have a high level of interest because this will be my first true experience at working a non-service position and will allow me to use some of the skills I have acquired through my education. I believe again that my initial satisfaction will be high however; I fear that as time progresses that it will not continue at such a rate. I believe when each task becomes repetitive that I will lose interest in my job.

If you worked at your ideal company for your first job, how long would you be willing to wait for a promotion? Why?

I would say I would be willing to wait up to two years for my first promotion. However, if it was to be long that than I would need something to incentivize me to want to stay with the company rather than pursuing other opportunities at a different organization. Two years is also a solid milestone to see how my performance is coming along. If I have shown improvement in several areas of my professional life than I would expect some kind of promotion however if I had not improved and still needed more training than it would be wrong for me to expect to get a promotion while not improving at my current job function. Basically I would expect with the first two years to receive a promotion or I would be tempted to go elsewhere.

If you worked at a company that wasn’t your ideal for your first job, how long would you be willing to wait for a promotion? Why?

I still would say somewhere in the neighborhood of two years. Whether or not I am working for my ideal company most likely will not affect my commitment to my current job. I believe that if I work hard enough I should be rewarded, in this case since it is not my ideal company I would be less likely to wait longer than two years because there are companies that fit my needs better out there. I still would commit to my current company however in my head two years is the benchmark of how long I am willing to wait for a promotion when I first begin a job. The average job lasts about 16 months and I am willing to stick to it for up to two years as long as I can get some kind of promotion in that time.

What do you hope for in a boss/manager/supervisor?

I hope to have a boss that believes in my ability along with one who challenges me so I can truly become great. I want to have a boss that everyone respects yet has an open door policy if you have any questions or concerns. I also want a boss that is willing to help employees achieve their potential, in the sense they want to continue to my development in terms of a mentor. A boss who is accommodating would be nice as well, and by that I mean one who is ok if you have some sick days or need time off for whatever reason. If I can have a boss that is challenging and accommodating along with one who believes in me that would be my ideal boss.

Do you think you are ready to lead a department/company in your field? Why or why not?

I think I am ready to lead by the book, in the sense that everything I have learned about my field of management has been from a textbook. Now, I know I will develop my own style when I go out into the work place however in the mean time with no real experience it would be hard for me to go out and not use the stuff I have learned in business school. Of course I would not be word for word from the book and I would add my own personal touches to my basic management style, but I know once I have been out in the workplace and dealt with numerous different situations I will be much more qualified to lead any department not just my own.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

5 simple rules for understanding Millennials...REDUX

Recently there have been a spate of articles and blog posts highlighting that the workforce now contains 4 generations, Boomers, X-ers, Y's, and Millennials. I consider Gen Y and Millennial to be virtually interchangeable so lets just cut the number to three for the sake of our discussion. As I stated in my inaugural blog post, I foresee a workplace culture clash of epic proportions looming on the horizon. It is also interesting to note that since I did my first post on my other blog and Tweet that more people are starting to post on the topic of working with the Millennial generation. Maybe it is because I am looking for the information but I suspect the timing of Spring Graduation is the explanation. In any event One post in particular stood out to me. I applaud the authors intent of helping everyone understand the different generations, although I didn't agree with the connotation of describing how he had to "infiltrate" the Gen Y/Millennials. His choice of words got me thinking about how little older generations know about the youngest generation, even though one of the biggest complaints about them is how "transparent" they make themselves online. I mean, it isn't surprising since a lot of times you hear parents complain that they don't know how to "connect" with their children, but that same complaint has been made by parents since Egyptian times.
This got my train of thought flowing back into the workplace and what follows are 5 hard and fast facts about the Gen Y/Millennials.

1) Millennials know that they don't know everything, but they do know more than you think they do.

2) The old ways of workplace motivation don't work for them. Money matters, but they have seen how much it corrupts and they don't exactly want to get too close to that slippery slope.

3) Millennials love what money can buy so they do expect to be paid well. I know what you are thinking, you're think wait a second he just said money doesn't motivate, what gives? What gives is that once Millennials are in the workplace and happy with their salaries, if you want more from them don't just throw money at them, it won't work. They know what their effort is worth and they know what their extra effort is worth. See every article on work-life balance ever written for a better motivator for better ways to motivate or see also #4.

4) Millennials just want to be recognized. While undoubtedly they are victims of "everyone-gets-a-trophy" syndrome, companies should trip over themselves to give praise because it is FREE and everyone wants it, not just Millennials. Besides older generations, you raised them like that (I know, not my kid, but YES your kid got a trophy too...) so keep it up. However make sure it is genuine despite their assumed lack of "EQ" they know when someone is being fake.

5) Millennials are loyal, you just can't automatically expect it from them. According to what you read online Millennials have no interest in loyalty, they are job-hoppers and career changes just chasing money or title. While sure that may take place, I argue that if they feel the company will be loyal they too will be loyal. Remember that they have all witnessed how "corporate loyalty" screwed over their parents and they want no part of that.

In order to move forward in workplace interaction with Millennials everyone should know these 5 rules. I encourage everyone from every generation to comment and add to the list.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Is a culture clash inevitable?

While the year of demarcation for who is a Millennial depends on the source, I like the years 1978-2001, so anyone born during this period is considered a Millennial in my book. What is more important than who is a Millennial is the laundry list of characteristics and stereotypes used to define this generation. Simple searches on-line will reveal that Millennials are considered, self centered, egocentric, over ambitious, immature, uncouth, and a whole long list of other "flattering" commentary. However, I don't think there are many in the Millennial generation who would deny those hash-tags as a group. They (we) are all of those things and more. They are proficient multi-taskers, they are quick thinkers (or Googlers maybe?), they are tech-literate, and they are uniquely creative in a world not quite ready to accept their creativity. Which is why the culture clash is coming/already happening.

To me the clash will unfold in many ways. Typical to anything where there is a clash between old and new, there will be conflict, there will be compromise, and there will be reformation. This big clash will be followed by smaller conflicts, less compromise, and less reformation until there is complete indoctrination and a total shift in thinking. The history of the world is littered with examples of this type of mind changing clash, the geocentric vs. the heliocentric, or the flat-Earthers vs. the round-Earthers, team Coco vs. team Leno. In all these cases both sides thought they were right, both sides claimed to have supporting evidence and both sides claimed to have support of the masses and their supporters ultimately did battle.

However no matter how hard fought the battle maybe sometimes the outcome is inevitable. Change is going to happen. Leno got his show back, the earth was proven to be round, and the Sun is the center of the solar system... for now...I still say Pluto is a planet! In any event, the main thing to remember if you find yourself set to clash along generational lines is to consider the opposite position in the debate.

In regards to the Millennials, those of older generations should think of and consider the way things are done now in terms of how they will be done in the future. A phone call today may still be important, but tomorrow it may be as useless as a telegraph. So instead of being upset the Millennials prefer electronic communication, think of it as inevitable that virtually all communication will eventually be electronic... until such time it becomes telepathic, come on Steve Jobs, get a move on it already, I want an APP for that!

In regards to dealing with older generations; Millennials, some things are set in stone, respect for others (especially those in authority) is one of them. If you think your boss is wrong, by all means, tell him, privately and respectfully. If he doesn't allow you to, then he is simply a poor manager. However going home and blogging or posting to FB and Twitter about how much of a Dbag your boss is not respectful, its cowardly. That is the behavior that leads to the stereotype of all Millennials being immature. Put his role into perspective, would you want someone posting to the world that you were awful at your job? I doubt it... and before you can say "so what", "it happens" or "get over it" think about how it may not have ever happened to your boss. You may be the first, and if he is like most bosses today, you may also be the last to criticize him on the world wide web.

Ultimately, while mutual perspective is important it won't stop the impending cultural clash, just make it a little less dramatic. The office and internet will become the Haight-Ashbury of the new generation. Too me though, the biggest reason for the inevitability of the clash is that too many people within the existing establishments will take defense of their viewpoint and begin to have pitched battle with the opposition. Let's face it silo mentality is definitely the hallmark of the older generation. The heretics may burn, some Millennials may not survive... but the world of business will change.