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Millennials: Full Disclosure or Bust

edward_snowden_millennial

Edward Snowden, seen here in an interview with The Guardian newspaper, told the newspaper he was the source of a series of leaked documents from the National Security Agency. (The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras)

The headlines are awash with emerging details on a 29-year old whistleblower named Edward Snowden, who disclosed classified secrets in order to expose the “surveillance state” of the U.S. government. In his role as an analyst for the National Security Agency (NSA), Snowden had access to classified material on a government program named PRISM that gave the government nearly unlimited access to every U.S. citizens’ emails and web-browsing activity.

Snowden, a Millennial, was well aware of the risks he was taking in exposing this top-secret NSA program. It is no coincidence that he and the soldier arrested for passing on classified material to Wikileaks’ Bradley Manning (25-years old), are both Millennials. Earlier this year, Aaron Swartz, age 26, committed suicide after felony charges relating to hacking into MIT’s computer system in order to download some academic journals.

Is it just a coincidence they are all Millennials? Not a chance. What do their actions tell us about Millennials in the workplace, and what do employers need to know about managing this new generation?

Here are 3 things employers should know about Millennials in the workplace:

1. Technology is a Millennial’s best friend, and best friends don’t cross you

Navigating the web, finding new apps, downloading new software programs—

Millennials have a kinship with technology that we have not seen in any previous generation. According to a recent survey by Generations consultancy, LifeCourse Associates, 93% of Millennials use social media for personal reasons, compared to 80% of GenXers and 61% of Boomers. As long as technology is Millennials’ best friend, there is an expectation that this friend, or those responsible for the technology, will not double-cross you.

When Sergy Brin and Larry Page started Google (both GenXers), they came up with a company slogan that they still use today: “Don’t Be Evil.” Little did they know, they created an expectation for an entire generation. Millennials trust technology, in part because technology has been an enabling partner with them from an early age—a source of entertainment, a way to stay close with friends and share things with them, even a way to help them with their school work. Their parents, whom they also trust, gave them their first smart phone in order to stay in touch. Technology is not just a lifeline for Millennials, it is their life.

Millennials don’t mind that you may be watching them, but they do mind if you are doing it secretly. Companies should be clear about their privacy laws, and they should be upfront that, yes, they do have the ability to access employees’ emails, but they are, in fact not evil, they only do it for good reasons.

2. Millennials’ Tolerance for Self-Disclosure is very low

When Baby Boomers were young, their biggest fear was oversight from big brother. George Orwell’s 1984 (written in 1949) was the guidebook for civic distrust of large institutions. Protecting privacy, particularly from the subversive forces of a centrally-controlled government or institution resonated with an entire generation. These days, Millennials gladly put cameras in their own room, and post the most intimate details of their daily activities for all to see. Yes, they will share almost anything, but they have an expectation that everyone else is sharing as well. The Millennial quid pro quo is… “I’ll be transparent, but I expect that you will be transparent too”. Yes, even in the case of the U.S. government, large institutions, or their employer. Our recent Millennial Minute on Salary Sharing speaks to new topic of interest or managers and HR directors: Millennials routinely sharing their information on salaries.

So when there is a perception that an institution is being nothing short of 100% transparent, Millennials will often push back. Lesson? Be transparent. Of course this does not go for the U.S intelligence community, but most employers will do good to go out of their way to be as transparent as possible about the decisions they make. Re-evaluate what you disclose to employees, and consider loosening the reins on information that does not entirely compromise your company’s mission. And if there is information that you cannot share, be explicit about why. For Millennials, honesty will trump secrecy all day long.

3. Save the world now, fat paycheck later…maybe

Millennials have very different priorities than their GenX counterparts. When GenXers were graduating from college in the 1980’s and 1990’s, a common route to a career was an MBA or law degree, then onto the highest paying job possible. Millennials are different. Far more college graduates today (and there are more of them) are going into professions in the non-profit world, and those that accept employment at for-profit companies prefer that the company practices long-term sustainable practices that are good for society. A 2011 Deloitte survey found Millennials who participated frequently in company-sponsored volunteer work are far more likely than their non-volunteering peers to rate their corporate culture as positive, to be proud to work for their company, to feel loyal, to recommend their company to a friend, and to be very satisfied with their employer and with the progression of their career.  Millennials are dedicated to corporate social responsibility, and not recognizing this dynamic can lead to Millennial disengagement and may even prompt them to challenge their employer on issues where they disagree.

What’s an employer to do? Employers need a way to scratch that itch that Millennials have. Make sure your social responsibility programs are not just ad-hoc after thoughts, but are integrated into the company’s core strategy and purpose. And allow Millennials to do social responsibility work on company time. This is worth the investment, as they will be much more likely to work longer hours on the project that you need them to do. Not only can you attract and retain  the most talented Millennials, but you will build a bond of trust that will pay big dividends in the future.

BOTTOM LINE: Get to know your Millennials, understand where they are coming from and why they think the way they do. Be sensitive to their hot spots, and start to work toward a more transparent, authentic operating style that clearly explains what your company believes and why they believe it.

– Warren Wright

https://www.coachingmillennials.com

It’s the Long Weekend: Set Your Millennials Free!

You will thank me for this advice. It’s Friday of Memorial Day weekend, the official start of the summer.  All those projects that are piling up? They will just have to wait.

Just because you, as a Boomer, or an early wave Xer like me, grew up in a “Work Is Life” culture, does not mean Millennials feel the same way about work.

All Work, No Play?

In the 1980’s, Boomers changed the definition of work. Work used to be punching time cards from 9 to 5 in factory-like precision. Remember when the work whistle went off for Fred Flintstone—Yaba Daba Do! But in the Boomer world of work, it was in early, out late. Once they were through their rebellious adolescence, Boomer adult took work seriously, some would say too seriously. They shattered the 9 to 5 paradigm and put meaning to the term ‘workaholic’.

BOOMERS on work: Work-Centric

The Ends Trump the Means

In the 1990’s Generation X redefined the work environment once again with a pay for performance mentality. For a GenXer, it didn’t matter how long you worked, it mattered that the job got done. These techno-literates used their creativity and adaptability to find new way to solve problems. And still find time for work/life balance. GenX Google founders Larry Page and Sergi Brim personified this ethic and built their $50 billion tech juggernaut.

GEN-X’s on work: Work/Life balance

Ummm… I just want a Life

Now here come the Millennials and once again, they will be redefining the work environment (but probably not until over 50% of them are over 30 in the 2020’s, replacing GenXers in management positions). In the meantime, what are their priorities on work and what is best way to motivate them?

First, recognize that family and friends always come first for Millennials. Their parents are BFF and their friends are their lifeline to… life—companionship, entertainment, activities, romance, etc. This does not mean that work is unimportant, but it does mean you have to understand their priorities.

Second, meaningful work is a meaningful life. Millennials want to do work that has an impact on the world around them. Can you connect the dots between their work and how it improves the lives of others? Barney & Barney, a successful insurance broker in California, has a thriving Foundation that contributes to the communities they serve. This really attracts the Millennials and they will put in the extra hours if they know it has meaning.

Lastly, and this is my GenX voice talking, define the goals you want them to achieve, and don’t meddle in the means to get there. Be clear about the goals, check in frequently on their progress (be positive and constructive) and give them the tools they need, but don’t make them stick around on a Friday if they can manage to finish the work on Thursday.

Millennials on work: Work-life Integration

Don’t stress out you Boomers… there’s always Monday… or in this case, Tuesday.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZclddLcOYYA]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZclddLcOYYA

It's the Long Weekend: Set Your Millennials Free!

You will thank me for this advice. It’s Friday of Memorial Day weekend, the official start of the summer.  All those projects that are piling up? They will just have to wait.

Just because you, as a Boomer, or an early wave Xer like me, grew up in a “Work Is Life” culture, does not mean Millennials feel the same way about work.

All Work, No Play?

In the 1980’s, Boomers changed the definition of work. Work used to be punching time cards from 9 to 5 in factory-like precision. Remember when the work whistle went off for Fred Flintstone—Yaba Daba Do! But in the Boomer world of work, it was in early, out late. Once they were through their rebellious adolescence, Boomer adult took work seriously, some would say too seriously. They shattered the 9 to 5 paradigm and put meaning to the term ‘workaholic’.

BOOMERS on work: Work-Centric

The Ends Trump the Means

In the 1990’s Generation X redefined the work environment once again with a pay for performance mentality. For a GenXer, it didn’t matter how long you worked, it mattered that the job got done. These techno-literates used their creativity and adaptability to find new way to solve problems. And still find time for work/life balance. GenX Google founders Larry Page and Sergi Brim personified this ethic and built their $50 billion tech juggernaut.

GEN-X’s on work: Work/Life balance

Ummm… I just want a Life

Now here come the Millennials and once again, they will be redefining the work environment (but probably not until over 50% of them are over 30 in the 2020’s, replacing GenXers in management positions). In the meantime, what are their priorities on work and what is best way to motivate them?

First, recognize that family and friends always come first for Millennials. Their parents are BFF and their friends are their lifeline to… life—companionship, entertainment, activities, romance, etc. This does not mean that work is unimportant, but it does mean you have to understand their priorities.

Second, meaningful work is a meaningful life. Millennials want to do work that has an impact on the world around them. Can you connect the dots between their work and how it improves the lives of others? Barney & Barney, a successful insurance broker in California, has a thriving Foundation that contributes to the communities they serve. This really attracts the Millennials and they will put in the extra hours if they know it has meaning.

Lastly, and this is my GenX voice talking, define the goals you want them to achieve, and don’t meddle in the means to get there. Be clear about the goals, check in frequently on their progress (be positive and constructive) and give them the tools they need, but don’t make them stick around on a Friday if they can manage to finish the work on Thursday.

Millennials on work: Work-life Integration

Don’t stress out you Boomers… there’s always Monday… or in this case, Tuesday.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZclddLcOYYA]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZclddLcOYYA

Millennial Minute: Tips for Motivating Millennial Salespeople

[youtube=http://youtu.be/wbrYHmCSszw]

 

Millennials are Feedback junkies. Here are three east steps to keep your Millennial employees motivated.

Coaching is the New Managing For Millennials

I love Peter Drucker.  The father of modern management always cut through the complexity and got to the heart of that matter. I remember during the weighty assignments in finance and accounting classes while getting my MBA, I’d run across a Drucker quote like, “business has only two functions, marketing and innovation”. This inspired me to slog through the double-entry bookkeeping.

Drucker died in 1995 at the age of 96, so he never managed a Millennial, but if he did, he would be refining and tweaking one aspect of his management theory. He might say that to get Millennials to peak performance, manage less, and coach more.  Coaching is the new managing for Millennials. Here’s why

Millennials grew up to believe they were special. From an early age they were doted on by their parents, helicopter-hovered in K-12, and plastered with gold stars for completing assignments. They have been under the watchful eye of parents, teachers, tutors, and coaches all their lives. For the most part, these authority figures have been caring with their Millennials’ best interest in mind.  So when these Millennials enter the workforce, how will they respond to someone who doesn’t possess these characteristics? A distant authority figure doling out unexplained assignments and lofty goals without explaining how to get to those goals is not the way to get there. On the other hand, someone that will work closely with them, mentoring and partnering– coaching them to better performance will experience far greater levels of productivity.

The word “management” conjures up a faceless bureaucratic infrastructure, at worst– malevolent, and at best—indiscriminate: Rule-making and decision-making at its worst. Drucker himself even said, “So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work”

Let me be clear. The principles of good management still need to apply—clear expectations, a means of tracking progress, and rewards for achieving goals. But how a manager manages should be more like a coach—developing his or her Millennial employee with close supervision and a watchful, caring eye.

Old habits die hard, and if you’ve been a manager for more than 10-years, I can understand the inclination to subscribe to the philosophy,  ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ But something does not have to be broke in order to fix it.  Change happens, and the strong are those that can adapt to change. Millennials are different from the previous two generations. They are the change that is happening in the workplace, and coaching, not managing, might be the change that gets your organization to higher levels of productivity.

Take it from Peter Drucker when he says, “If you want to start doing something new, stop doing something old.” Coaching is the new managing when it comes to Millennials.

-Warren Wright

www.coachingmillennials.com