Are you a millennial at heart?
Full Disclosure: I am a Baby Boomer.
Having said that, much has been written and discussed about the generation that is just about to replace Baby Boomers, like me, in the workforce. I feel they have been maligned and accused of various things ranging from being totally lazy to fully incompetent. This is unjustified. Let’s explore the reasoning for this supposition.
To begin with, let’s start with my generation. We were supposed to be the change agents. I can only imagine how my own parents felt when I decided to grow my hair longer, dress differently and behave radically different from them. After we were educated, I am not sure we took the changes we believed in and made a difference in other’s lives. We got consumed in “consumerism” and wanted bigger and better things than our parents had, including cars, homes, bank account, you name it. We set out in the workforce and were quickly overwhelmed by corporate systems that basically forbade us from making a change. As a result, we became part of the system. We failed to challenge tenets of things such as performance appraisal and the need for face time. We went along to get along which resulted in a lot of late nights, having become accustomed to monetary recognition, perhaps even avarice.
Consequently, our children were born into a material world. However, I’m not convinced Millennials are materialistic. They came of age in a world of computers and more importantly, information. It is this tenet, information, that separates my generation from that of our children. They know how to use information in ways unheard of in my prime time. It is my belief that this information, which my generation doesn’t understand, has made the next generation so powerful. They multi-task extremely well and are hyper-connected to various media.
A Millennial doesn’t subscribe to the status quo. Millenials make a difference by leveraging technology to their advantage and indeed they are changing the world. Case in point, imagine my generation trying to organize any sort of protest. We would rely on word of mouth, posters, etc. However, look at how rapidly the Millennials can get things done. Through the adroit use of social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they can organize something in a matter of minutes!
However, they also know how to leverage technology for very useful things. And at the end of the day, they want to be left alone. They don’t mind working, but they do mind doing things in an insane way. They question things as my generation wanted to but were afraid to. After all, we were trying to protect our status and future. Did it pay off? I am thinking no, it didn’t. We were slaves to the system and the system many times simply overwhelmed the individual. We accepted the status quo, often to our own detriment. We were downsized, right-sized and all other sizes that come to mind.
The Millennials don’t want any of this. Mess with me? Well, Mr. Corporate Executive /manager/ supervisor and I will go off and do something different!
And they do.
Millennials also understand results better than we ever did, but results mean something different to them. As I said they want to deliver but they want to be left alone when they have produced. They have trouble understanding things such as face time, keeping their head down and pretending to be busy when the assignment is done. They do not like to be judged through a system of the annual appraisal. They want and demand development, but not development in the old-fashioned, traditional way. They want a voice in their future because they need to truly make a difference. They simply don’t subscribe to the control systems typical organizations place on people. They also see a future free of discrimination and the resulting haves and have nots.
My generation had their shot. I oftentimes think we failed. Today, at my rapidly advancing age, I find myself more in alignment with millennials than those of my own generation. The last of the Baby Boomers turned 50 in 2014. It’s time to embrace a newly styled workforce with new and improved methods surrounding the concept of work in the 21st century.
Now, if I could only figure out how to use my smartphone more efficiently…