Thursday, October 07, 2010

JW's Guide To Millennials In The Workplace

A few weeks ago I was approached by one of my managers seeking advice.  The topic was Millennials, commonly referred to as Generation Y.  This manager, roughly 10 years my senior, was having difficulty understanding what made Millennials tick: what mattered to them from an employment perspective, what (if any) were their common values, and why so many chose to job hop.

I fit into the Millennial age range sweet spot, having graduated high school in 2000.  I'm also wildly passionate about technology, a character trait frequently attributed to members of Generation Y.  Since I believed this manager was sincere in his desire to learn more about the demographic to increase his effectiveness as a leader, I agreed to put together a crash course on the generation through a workplace engagement lens.

The training program consisted of daily readings e-mailed to him with a brief introduction about the article.  At the end of each week, I scheduled an hour long meeting to discuss the readings and answer questions.

While you won't confuse this for the curriculum of a university course, I thought others who manage Millennials could benefit from the information.  Below you'll find my e-mails and suggested readings.

Day 1

For the next two weeks, I'm going to send you a daily reading that gives insights as to how Millennials see the world and the workplace.

Although I've gathered much of the material already, I want to expose it to you in daily chunks so you have a chance to reflect on the content.  On Friday afternoon for the next two weeks, I'm scheduling an hour meeting to discuss the readings and what each means to Hewitt and DSS Tech.

If you intend to conduct interviews with members of this generation within the next month, I'm confident you'll be better equipped to market the company and our team after we finish this two week training.

To start us off, we'll use this insightful piece from the New York Times that I ran across this morning.  It's not Millennial-specific, but speaks very much to that world view.

New York Times: A Technology World That Revolves Around Me

More to come tomorrow.

- JW

Day 2

Today's installment consists of two bite-sized blog posts from digital marketer extraordinaire, Seth Godin.  And while not specific to this Millennial training, I also highly recommend his Purple Cow book if you're interested in new ways to market your company and yourself.

Senior management

Why jazz is more interesting than bowling

More tomorrow.

- JW

Day 3

Today's selection comes from Hewitt's own Robert Gandossy, Global Practice Leader for Talent, Leadership, & Engagement.

While this article primarily addresses retention, I think it's applicable for employee acquisition, too.  If you've got a dearth of leadership & an uninspirational story, it's tough to sell the organization to either current or future employees.  The secret is identifying key talent and then relentlessly marketing the business's opportunities to that pool.

Stay or Go?
(Link omitted due to inaccessibility outside of corporate LAN)

More tomorrow.

- JW

Day 4

Today's selection addresses the concept of branding.  While this article speaks of brands in the context of products, I want you to look at it through the lens of a product being a company.  You're selling Hewitt.

What's going to resonate with the prospective employee sitting across the interview table from you?  Similar to the lesson from yesterday's reading, the narrative is critical.  Fitting the new hire into that narrative in a meaningful way is critical.  If the story isn't compelling, you lose.

Millennial Values Behind Lifestyle Brands

I look forward to our conversation tomorrow to discuss the readings from this week.

- JW

Day 5

(No e-mail since the hour long discussion was conducted on this day.  I did, however, suggest this for-purchase longer article from the Harvard Business Review as weekend reading: )

Day 6

Two short readings today:  the first comes from someone who provides consulting services to companies on how to attract, engage, & retain fresh college grads.  The second addresses the belief that Millennials are annoying to manage.

What Millennials (Generation Y) Want Out of Work

Generation Y Is Annoying to Manage, But That's a Good Thing

More tomorrow.

- JW

Day 7

Two articles again today.  The first appeared in Forbes a couple of months back, and highlights former health care CEO Bill George's thoughts on leadership traits exhibited by younger workers.

The second article struck me by its simplicity.  Taken in sum, these questions can sometimes be the elephant in the room, but instrumental in developing trust within an organization.

A Massive Generational Change in Leadership

Love Em Or Lose Em

More tomorrow.

- JW

Day 8

Today's readings focus specifically on how to effectively manage members of this age group.  As we've discussed before, I draw a distinction between "managing" & "leading".  These articles aren't as strict in their classification, but still provide helpful guidance.  I especially like the approaches outlined in the PricewaterhouseCoopers entry.

Managing the millennials: HR strategies for the next generation of workers

Tips for managing the Millennial Generation

More tomorrow.

- JW

Day 9

The final reading I've selected for you is an excerpt from an interview conducted with author Lynne Lancaster, who wrote "The M Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking The Workplace."

It speaks to some of the inherent friction between Generation X & Y, and how each side can benefit from the other's perspective.  I think this article is an appropriate one to end our series on, given its optimistic tone.

Why the Millennial Generation Is About to Rock the Workplace

I look forward to our discussion tomorrow.

- JW

Day 10

Today marks the end of our two week research project on Millennials.  For your reference, I wanted to provide you with a link to the full report the Pew Research Center published on Millennials earlier in 2010.  The first link is to an executive summary of the report, while the second link is the actual 150 page document.  You may find these useful if you need hard data points in the future.

Looking forward to our discussion on the readings this afternoon.

- JW

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