Monday, May 10, 2010

The Millennial Mindset

It is said that thoughts, moods and attitudes are contagious. I agree 100% and for that reason I choose to associate with people who are positive and have a passion for life and continual improvement.

I am currently reading the book Managing the Millennials, which was a going away gift from a dear friend and colleague. The premise of the book is evident by the title. I am personally so interested in the concept of leveraging the attributes of the Millennials for three reasons:

- My next leadership opportunity (and likely each one that follows) places me in front of Millennials
- Most of us not part of this generation fail to understand and truly appreciate the difference in mindset (Many GEN-X and elder even denigrate the mindset and values of our new team members...never-mind that as parents we have cultivated it and rightfully so)
- Millennials represent our future and if we care about our future, we must adapt to them, not them to us

Coincidentally, I began reading this book and giving the topic deliberate thought prior to a recent familiarization visit where I began creating relationships with my new colleagues working waist deep in the computing field. Though I met people ranging from early 20s to late 50s, there was a common thread. Just as the book had alluded, I found that it was not just the twenty-somethings who were...

- Passionate about the work they were doing and understood "The Why"
- Sensitive to work-life balance
- Taken seriously and afforded the opportunity to provide input to how things were done
- Of the mind that the work environment should have an element of fun
- Motivated by and frankly expected acknowledgment for a job well done
- Demanding of constructive feedback, mentoring and career development
- Appreciative of a boss who was an advocate

I am not saying that all people do not appreciate these very things, just that outside of Millennials, most do not make any of them a true priority and are willing to accept far less. That said, there are specific occupations that attract people of all ages with a Millennial mindset. I am lucky enough to have entered such a realm (Computer Technology) and it is not so slowly moving across the Navy and entire workforce. Clearly, there are elders with a millennial mindset, but we need to help it become commonplace. Rather than criticize the perceived negative traits (i.e. self-centered, whiners, overly-sensitive, impatient, etc) of the newest generation to enter our workforce, we should rethink our perceptions, recognize their point of view and promote such a mindset across our respective team. Though I am obviously not a Millennial by age criteria, I consider myself one based upon my personal philosophy, thus my advocacy.

We need to understand and appreciate that most Millennials do not think the same, are not motivated the same and do not value the same things that GEN-X and seniors generally do. Our collective future and our individual relevance in the workplace depend on our ability to engage, challenge and empower our youngest teammates.

Be relevant, ensure your/our team remains relevant...embrace your inner Millennial and find ways to truly involve the Millennials with whom we are fortunate enough to work!

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