The Millennial Borg; Part II

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In regards to the last post, our friend Sam Meers  commented:

 As a tail-end baby boomer, it is not a very pleasant experience. There’s an ongoing clash between the hierarchy of the industrial age with the liquid cache of Web 2.0.

In advertising, where we have gone from 4 and 5 people per million in
billings ten years ago to .8 people per million today, it is a fast-paced environment. There is much less time to coach, mentor, praise and cajole millennials.

They’re here. The situation you describe in your post is completely
accurate. As if the market and clients changing isn’t enough, we have to somehow manage to embrace the needs and desires of millennials in order to have a business that thrives. 
It is a challenge beyond anything we’ve seen.

I shake my head a little at Sam’s use of “cajole”.  It is not that Gen Y is a bunch of spoiled, politically-correct, demanding prima-donnas who need extra love and attention to function in the workforce.  Its that they will seek out a more comfortable and friendly environment that suits their personal goals.  They will not waste time “paying their dues” just to climb the corporate ladder.  And if your company doesn’t offer them the environment they seek, your company will not grow in this new economy.

Other people with which I’ve had follow up discussions, (also Boomers) say to me, “We shouldn’t have to treat them differently.  They will learn how to function in a given company just like everyone else does if they want to stay employed.”

 These people are not getting it, either.  Of course you can sit back and insist the way you do business works just fine, thank you very much.  I hope that works out for you.

Anyway, let’s continue the Gen Y in the workforce discussion, and focus a bit more generally, instead of just advertising. 

Dan Taylor suggests we get with the program, if we are going to be able to figure out how to benefit from GenY’s availability in the face of a 10MM employee deficit in this country (the difference between the number of baby boomers in the workforce and the fact that Gen X is a much smaller generation). 

Have you hugged your child today?  How many of you out there can remember this phrase?  Yes, this is the generation that was hugged everyday.  This is the generation that was scheduled en mass; they have had very little time to form their own opinions.  Dance class, soccer, homework, AP classes, etc..  This translates to a generation that is hungry, almost to the point of obsessive for feedback, aren’t afraid to speak their minds, and place the value of the team very high on their list.  While these are not necessarily bad or harmful characteristics, it does beg the question; with so much importance on team, will the transition to autonomous leaders be the meltdown of the millennial?

Are you setting up your company to deal with this pool of talent?  Are your management teams prepared to learn a whole new way to play the game

It will take more than advances in technology to issue in the post-managerial age. As I noted earlier, management and organizational innovation often lags far behind technological innovation. Right now, your company has 21st-century Internet-enabled business processes, mid-20th-century management processes, all built atop 19th-century management principles. 

While the quote above comes from Gary Hamel’s new book The Future of Management,  the discussion at wirearchy reaches a similar point:  

The 2.0 label is said to denote a more interactive, less static environment.  Whether we like it or not, we are  passing from an era in which things were assumed to be controllable, able to be deconstructed and then assembled into a clear, linear, always replicable and thus static form to an era characterized by a continuous  flow of information.  Because it feeds the conduct of organizations large and small, it is a flow that necessarily demands to be interpreted and shaped into useful inputs and outputs.

Look, I am not the first and I won’t be the last to jump in on this conversation.   Visit digg or del.icio.us and discover just how many people are talking about this.   All I’m saying is, get ready for the rules to change.  No matter which side of the job offer you’re sitting on, the companies and organizations who embrace this change will be the ones who grow with this generation.  Whether you see it as the culture of business, or the business of culture, it will change.

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