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Adapting to millennials

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Johnny’s Issues

“Some of my best friends are millennials.” That sounds a bit defensive from the outset, without meaning to. But just that name alone “millennial” seems overly complicated to me. Which is why it just may be the perfect fit for this group of individuals.

Having already attended several workshops and discussions on how to work with millennials (hey, let’s make things easier from now on and call them “millies”), they do, as a group, seem to be a bit complicated. During these workshops, we have examined the millie generation to find what it is about their employment that is most important to them. What motivates them to do a good job? What work environment appeals most to them? How are they most likely to communicate? Apparently, these are all things we need to know if we are ever to work effectively with a millie.

I’ve come to realize that learning to work with millies is very similar to learning a foreign language. The logical order of things seems a bit out-of-whack. For instance, experts say that the most important thing to millies as far as work is that someone (presumably someone like me, a prototypical non-millie) communicates exactly how their work is contributing to a larger picture. I’m supposed to do that. Should I send it in a text? How often do I need to send that? And, how wordy do I need to be? I’m a boomer. We’re nerdy, not wordy. Just tell us what to do and we do it, plain and simple.

So, No. 1 is a sense of purpose, and a communication style that works with them. Got it.

A friend of mine used to say her bimonthly paycheck was her employer’s way of saying “good morning, how was breakfast, happy Hanukah, merry Christmas, how are the children and have a nice weekend” all wrapped into one. I always liked that. But it is certainly not millie-esque.

No. 2 seems to be all about collaboration. Let’s collaborate. Collaborate? On our job? To me that raises some questions. Who then is ultimately responsible for which duties? Who makes decisions along the way? Apparently, millies don’t care about that. If the job gets done, it doesn’t matter who did what or who gets the credit. That sounds lovely if the job is done well and the deadline is met.

But what if something goes haywire on a job? And what about when it comes time to discuss a pay raise? How would you quantify what work product was truly yours? I can imagine you would see some attitudes change at that point with regards to responsibility and individuality.

Let me say this about the millies of the world. I’ve worked with several and have hired many. By and large, they are a good group to work with, creative, industrious, with a good work ethic. I’ve seen a few who possessed more ambition than they did talent, and I’ve seen some resumes that were as overinflated as a Schlitterbahn inner tube. But I feel good about our prospects in the hands of this up and coming generation. Millies of the world, you rock.

Next up on the generation roller coaster is Gen-Z. The jury is still out on this group, but at least the name sounds like fun, right?

Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County.