I read an excerpt from Claire Raines’s book “Connecting Generations” (2002) and found it to be outstanding in describing the characteristics of each generation — she is spot on.
However, I have found that our new recruits who fit the Millennial profile (age) with first degrees have certain characteristics that have proven to be a management challenge to generation-x managers.
These new graduates have just received their Bachelors degrees and are already aiming to their Masters Degree right away with little or no work experience.
When they enter the new organisation, their department is populated with a cross section of generations working at various tasks; this poses a diversity management challenge in itself. Apart from the obvious differences, the attitude, work ethic and expectations are so far removed from the other generations.
With minimal work experience, they expect to be placed in high level jobs. Organisations need to determine the candidate’s ability to do the job at a lower level first before entrusting the candidate with higher order responsibilities. They think they are much better than they really are.
On way of managing such situations, is to give the candidate projects that they believe they can deliver, while allowing for time to do any necessary re-work. I have found, after much time, and many excuses for non-completion, an admittance of ignorance and a request for assistance with a humbling demeanour usually follows.
The humble, open, attitude is welcomed by all co-workers and now the substantive on the job learning can take place without the inhibitors of “feeling of this is beneath me”. This usually builds competence, experience and ability.
The notion or the perception of a false sense of ability coupled with an air of arrogance can be addressed with a sobering dose of “on the job reality”.
Compensation is another high expectation that follows from an inflated sense of ability. Millennials benchmark themselves against their peers and expect the same status and or compensation even if they as individuals are not as competent in their respective fields as their peers. Long ago, I (Gen X) was told by my parents (baby boomers) “don’t look at what other people have, you don’t know what they had to do to get it”.
The Baby Boomers in our organisation also complained to HR about the lack of manners by the young millenial employees. The comment was “they don’t even say good morning, good day, please, thank you, excuse me”. We are in the process of addressing this in our orientation and diversity management workshops leveraging off our Guardian Angel programme here at Guardian Life.
The older generation considered it an honour to have a job and worked for work’s sake. Baby Boomers characteristically have worked hard because their self-image was based on their career. The teenagers and the twenty something year olds are in the “no fear” category, they are not motivated by threats, progressive discipline or loss of job and this comes across as arrogant and disrespectful to the other generations.
Claire Raine identified unique and compelling messages fed to the Millennials. They are: be smart, you are special, don’t discriminate, 24-7 connectivity, achieve now and serve your community. As I reflect on this, I tell my one year old son, he is smart and special all the time and I chose a pre-school for him to start attending in 2010 by placing his name on a waiting list since he was one month old.
In conclusion, the key is to get to know each individual and what drives him/her to be able to determine the best work plan and style that will achieve on time deliverables. It would be interesting to know if any other organisations in the region experienced similar behaviour.