Leadership / Management | Organizational Development | Technology & Social Media

Are you changing us, millennials? Are we changing you?

Geny Yes, we're talking about you again, millennials.

You're an endless source of fascination to us older folks. We're desperate to know what makes you tick, because we're positive that you'll eventually change the very face of business. From your work habits and your online acumen to the ways in which you communicate, you're sort of freaking us out. "If we can just figure out these younger folks," we tell ourselves, "we'll solve all of life's problems."

You're not making it easy for us, though, are you?

For a while now, you've convinced us that we owe you everything -- a great job, lots of money, a career path to greatness, plus all the flexibility in the world -- and that if you don't get it, you'll split.

Turns out we're wrong, at least for the time being. Consider this from a recent Miami Herald article:

Stunned by a barrage of pink slips instead of promotions, Generation Y -- people between ages 18 and 30 -- has swallowed a piece of humble pie. Those who still have jobs are adopting new workplace attitudes and making themselves more valuable.

They still want a chance at career development but they are no longer demanding that it happen on the fast track.

"This is the generation that dreamed they wanted to be CEO of a public company but didn't have an idea what to do to get there,'' (Miami accounting firm director Richard) Berkowitz says. "What's happened is that realization set in. They've discovered you have to be on the ground and working hard to accomplish great things."

The things you'll do for steady work, huh?

When it comes to social media, though, we've pretty much got you figured out. Here's what we're assuming about you:

  • You're a social bunch.
  • You share almost everything online, and (privacy issues be damned) you don't mind doing so.
  • You're communicating in ways that are fundamentally different than the ways in which we are used to communicating.

In fact, a recent survey from Pew Internet and the American Life Project found that millennials "will retain their willingness to share personal information online even as they get older," and that "the advantages millennials see in personal disclosure will outweigh their concerns about their privacy."

In other words, you're conforming to our workplaces and redefining them at the same time.

For a groundbreaking generation like yours, that sounds about right.

Here's my question: Are we overthinking your generation, millennials? Are you really changing the ways in which we do things? Or are you simply using new tools to do the things we've always done?

Let me know what you think, then check out these related resources:


Bill Sheridan