Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. While there is some dispute on the precise dates for when this generation begins and ends, demographers typically use the early 1980s as a starting birth year and the mid-1990s to early 2000s to define them. Many people of other generations are often puzzled by millennials. Additionally, it’s a generation that’s often maligned in the press, due to a lack of understanding. As multi-generational teams grow in the professional workplace we must ask ourselves, “Do you remember when your generation was the one everyone was shaking their heads about?”
Before you spread those stale complaints about millennials lacking professionalism, or you share the infamous internet meme with kids in the art gallery on their phones, consider that you may simply be misreading the situation. In the case of the art gallery, those young adults were looking at an interactive museum app at the instruction of their teacher, because education has also adapted to these innovative ways of interacting with the world.
There is hope for multi-generational teams working side-by-side, with both sides being open to learning about each other. Enjoy a millennial’s perspective below on how to make the best of what can be an exciting time of growth for employees of all ages.
Learn About Them
Instead of making accusations, stay open-minded and see if there’s a millennial on your team that has something to teach you. This generation is tech savvy, hard-working and always looking for ways to work smarter. They are excellent at multitasking, planning, and instant research – whether it be working mobile from their phones or on an office desktop. Their skills may look different to you, so take a leap of faith, get to know them and you just might find they have loads of new workplace skills to share.
Spend Time Where They Spend Time
How often do you really explore the Internet and it’s many resources? Not just Facebook, which most millennials use but consider a site for their parents. Get curious about the different places that millennials hang out online, like Tumblr and Instagram. You might find yourself a fandom – drawn to these fresh and creative content-driven places online that can contribute to you staying relevant in the workplace.
Recognize Your Similarities
You read the paper. You read books. Guess what, millennials do the equivalent, but typically online and by use of their phones. Don’t be afraid to try e-reading for yourself; many older generations now find that they prefer reading by a tablet. There are many ways that millennial workers are similar to other generation workers. What makes them stand apart and their similarities look different is often the addition of technology and their day-to-day use of technology. Be open to doing old things in ‘new’ ways and you just might find the old saying to be true, “we are more alike than we are unalike.”
Millennials in today’s workplaces are aware that the elders working alongside them have a lot to teach them, but they’re also looking for respect. If you’re able to acknowledge that they may have a different outlook than you, and that you may also be able to learn some new tricks, you’ll find it much easier (and much more productive) to work on a multi-generational team.