An interesting study managers should read.
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The Gallup organization recently produced an interesting paper titled “Millennials: How They Live and Work” (May 11, 2016), written by Jim Clifton, Gallup’s Chairman and CEO. This should be required reading for all managers working with Millennials (aka, “Generation Y”), those born during the early 1980’s to 2000.
According to the report, the attitudes of the Millennials are substantially different than the Baby Boomers or Generation X. Technology has had a tremendous effect on their behavior and how they think. Clifton makes six key observations:
“1. Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck – they want a purpose.”
This is a recognition their personal and professional lives are one and the same. Frankly, I find this encouraging. My company has always contended workers must lead a worthy life and there is dignity in all forms of work. Unlike the Boomers who were driven by paychecks, the Millennials seek meaning. This may seem naive to some, but maybe those computer video games and comic book movies they’ve been watching over the last twenty years have something to do with it.
“2. Millennials are not pursuing job satisfaction – they are pursuing development.”
This is also encouraging as it suggests the return of craftsmanship, where people take a professional attitude towards work, and cultivate their skills in order to improve themselves.
“3. Millennials don’t want bosses – they want coaches.”
This represents a refutation of the Theory X style of micromanagement currently in place in corporations. Millennials want to be empowered and challenged to solve problems. Mentors are great, and I have no problem with people looking to bring this back, but there will always be a need for a manager to monitor areas of the business and make the hard decisions.
“4. Millennials don’t want annual reviews – they want ongoing conversations.”
Ongoing conversations are a natural part of mentoring, and should be encouraged, but in this litigious society of ours, eliminating performance reviews is simply reckless. Such reviews, be it quarterly, semi-annually, or annually, are invaluable for documenting the progress of employees. Without such paperwork, it opens Pandora’s Box in terms of lawsuits where the terminated worker could claim, “I didn’t know anything was wrong.”
For a paper on such evaluations, click HERE.
“5. Millennials don’t want to fix their weaknesses – they want to develop their strengths.”
In Gallup’s research, they discovered Millennials concentrate on developing their strengths, but are not inclined to improve upon their weaknesses. In fact, they recommend to their clients they institute “strengths-based” corporate cultures.
What this ultimately means is the age of specialists will become even more pervasive in companies. The idea of well-rounded employees with a broader perspective will become a thing of the past. This does not sit comfortably with me, someone who has been in the systems world for a number of years. In my world, we have too many specialists (programmers) and not enough people who can look at the company from 50,000 feet (systems people). The result is our corporate systems may be well programmed but no longer productively serve the needs of the enterprise.
“6. It’s not just my job – it’s my life.”
This is similar to the first point. Again, I find this very promising. Unlike Boomers who just want a paycheck, the Millennials seek purpose in life.
From my perspective, all of this means we are about to witness a shift in management style, from today’s Theory X micromanagement, to a Theory Y “bottom-up” approach whereby employees are trained, empowered, and accept responsibility to perform tasks. This is essentially no different than the corporate cultures of the 1950’s and 60’s, following the war. In a nutshell, they want bosses to manage more, and supervise less.
Also worth noting, with their inclination to communicate via their smart phones, look for a spirit of cooperation and teamwork to emerge.
The Millennials are ready to go, it’s now a matter of corporate management to see the light, do what is necessary, and turn them loose.
Keep the Faith!