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."

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.