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Communicating with a Millennial (Part 4: The Transition to Work)

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So what are the right expectations for a millennial just entering toe workforce? Ryan states “I find that managers are not giving me the appropriate guidance necessary for me to grow in the company. They’re too concerned with what’s going on above them to look at what’s going on below.” And “Some of my best moments in the corporate world began when a manager asked me to “get creative with it.” That phrase is rocket fuel for my ego! I feel like I can do anything when I’m not held captive by the norm.” Ryan has every expectation to have managers who groom his talent and guide him to the top. His experience with managers asking him to get creative show that he’s a person they trust and want to see what he comes up with. I’d suggest that he take two things from this: 1) he’s a candidate, and 2) not everyone of his peers is also a candidate.

Ryan: For me, the hardest part about getting through a “9 to 5” is the lack of creativity in what I do. And yes, having the amazing boss that I do, occasionally we’ll get something by the head honchos and have a little fun, but that’s few and far between…

My proposal to the business world is to stop thinking that the conventional way is always the right way. Businesses seem to evolve not just by creating new business deliveries, but by creating new ways of delivering business. ((Retrived from on March 26, 2007))

Now I’m not sure what type of job “Ryan” is in. But let’s say this comment came from someone in HR. I think many of us are quite open to new ideas. In fact, I hope that we all celebrate creativity and innovation. Certainly I spend enough time writing about it, but I know it’s not universal. I do think that business evolves. Look at the last ten years, not just in terms of technology, but also in process and the way we think about business. Some of the changes in thinking have come from the Bill Gates and Michael Dells of the world who changed business right out of school. But in general for the vast majority of us, early career is a proving ground where we make the case that both we and our thoughts are valuable, insightful, and reflective on prior knowledge.

I have no intention of passing judgment, but the early career is the place people learn not only the career and industry, but the compliance, the history, and the organizational context. For every great idea from a new career entrant (and no person in any stage of their career should ever stop providing them) there were at least 100 from the same source that have been thought of, business cases written, and tried or dropped.

Ryan, I am by no means a decision maker. However, I can tell you that you’ve apparently earned your place as an up-and-comer. Part of that earning was a filtering and an open invitation to “Use your Gen-Y employees to that goal” just isn’t feasible. The real question, is how can we better manage our young talent to identify the high potentials earlier, engage and capture their imaginations earlier, so we can use your ideas… earlier.

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3 responses to “Communicating with a Millennial (Part 4: The Transition to Work)”

  1. Tom O'Brien Avatar

    OK, I’ve been following this “Communicating with a Millennial” conversation since Part 1.

    Earlier this year I attended a Colorado HR Association conference. The theme of the conference was the effect of the generational divide at work. We currently have 4 generations sharing the same workspace (WWII, Boomer, Gen X, Millennial) and this has big implications for all of us.

    I don’t think the basic human aspirations of the different generations are very different – but our expectations, communication methods and values may be very different.

    For my business – this means that we can design plans with features for all 4 generations – but we might want to consider “customized” communication campaigns for each of them – including different delivery methods, packaging and feature emphasis.

    Anyway, there was a panel with employees from Frontier Airlines representing each of the four generations. Of course I was highly skeptical about it – but what the heck – it might be interesting.

    Yes, each of the four had different styles and values, but because they talked to each other about those styles and values, I think they could work together very effectively.

    In fact, the next time we kick-off a big project with lots of team members (from different generations) I think we should start with this kind of *personal discovery* conversation and we will all be much more effective working together.

    CHRA Conference

  2. Lavinia Weissman Avatar

    I’ve been on the road for 4 weeks and following this conversation while attending conferences and other.
    Tomorrow, I land in Golden Co, where I will sit still for 3 months and write and work on my projects. Hallelujah.

    While on the road, I found myself in conferences with people of all ages, cultures, numerous countries and other. The most recent was last week at the Society for Organizational Learning, Sustainability Conference.

    In this conference, I met many millenials from the Pac Rim and talked with people from China and Australia. I heard about an intiative that millenials in the Pac Rim created examining the Digital Earth age in numerous international hubs. The next conference will be in San Francisco and I have decided to help with it.

    I found no gap existed between the millenials and others in the conversations that I joined. It seemed relatively simply to me that a culture that invites people to listen to each other closes the gap of age and experience.

    The youth at the SOL conference had their own meetings. At the closing session a group self-selected to come to the larger final session and asserted something very simple. They requested to attend all sessions next year of any kind for any age by choice. The request was accepted.

    Something in my reflection over this weekend struck me. The issue of age and gender for me seems to be something that is a conversation that both core groups and social networks buy into. What would happen if we listened to possibility and when someone no matter their age had knowledge to offer and initiatives to contribute to of value. What would happen if this was the driver. I am going to give that more thought.

    In my memory bank, I remembered when my daughter was 4 she met me at a meeting I organized for Dr. Fernando Flores. Her babysitter lifted her to talk to Flores and she spoke. ”
    I dont’ like you.” Flores asked why. Kate said, “You make my mom work when she should be sitting and telling me a story and giving me attention.” Kate was 4 and she knew how to tell people what she wanted and needed. It took me two more years to respond to her. I had to leave my job and alter the way I worked. It wasn’t easy and I did it. It was also not easy when I was ready to return to work full time to return full time. Yet I see more and more people doing this because they have learned what something I am only learning now, to be more effective. Making friends with the people you work with gets you a lot if you continue to contribute and be productive.

    Imagine if people convened in network and at work on that basis of any age!

  3. Tom O'Brien Avatar


    Great comment. I guess that is what I observed at the CHRA conference. (And LOTS of other places in my life!) When people suspend notions of age/gender/race and have judgement free conversations great things will happen.

    Tom O’Brien