Is the Millenial Generation Equipped For Leadership?

As workplaces add employees, the “Millennial” generation — those born in the late 1980s and 1990s —  is claiming a growing share of jobs and taking leadership positions.  And as in all previous eras, the arrival of younger workers has sparked some rivalry with the existing workforce.   Millennials have been labeled as narcissistic, stressed, entitled, and lazy.  This generation has a higher rate of college graduation than any other, yet they are criticized for having a low work ethic and an unwillingness to pay their dues before expecting workplace rewards.

Hardly a week goes by without a new article, study or statistic on the subject of generational strife in the workforce. This Blog looks at how the Millennials, aka Generation Y are being covered in the media.

Weak Leaders?

A September 2013 article in USA Today discussed a study conducted by Ernst & Young which found Millennial managers are widely perceived as entitled, and score significantly lower as hard-working team players.  In that study, only five percent of respondents said Millennials were “prepared to lead.” On the plus side, the study found these younger managers are good at supporting diversity and building cultural humility among teams.  Read the full article.

Lack of Commitment?

The Harvard Business Review article “Hitting the Intergeneration Sweet Spot” does a fantastic job of describing the challenges many older managers experience when dealing with Millennials including the need to provide more explanation and context when giving work assignments.

A frequent criticism of Millennials is their lack of commitment to their employer.  Author Monique Valcour’s says this group does have a weaker connection to their employing organization, but not because they have less capacity for commitment or loyalty.  Rather she says this is a “logical and predictable social evolution in response to the general weakening of the employment contract in our society, driven by management practices that have reduced job and employment security for most people in the workforce. Since individuals bear the ultimate responsibility for the management of their own careers, it is unrealistic to expect total devotion to an employer.”

Valcour goes on to describe the similar motivations of Millennials and the two other predominant workforce generations (Baby Boomers and Generation X). She says Millennials “want the same things from their employers that Generation X and Baby Boomers do: challenging, meaningful work; opportunities for learning, development and advancement; support to successfully integrate work and personal life; fair treatment and competitive compensation.”  Read the full article.

Unique Perspective?

In the Forbes article, “3 Reasons You Need Millennials On Your Team”, author Erika Anderson says Millennials bring unique perspective to any organization and specifically cites their technology understanding as helpful to organizations trying to evolve in today’s web-based environment.  She also says Millenials put more emphasis on substance than on authority.  Every business can benefit from employees that question the status quo and strive for high quality.  She goes on to advise older workers that the best way to access Millennial’s potential is by having an open mind and “not having rigid limiting beliefs about who they are”.

Not So Different Afterall

So now that we’ve seen some of the positive and negative differences between younger and older workers, consider the research findings from the staffing company Ranstad:

“When asked about their feelings toward their current job, millennials and mature workers responded more favorably than other respondents across the board. In fact, 89 percent of mature workers and 75 percent of millennials say they enjoy going to work every day, and a majority of both groups feels inspired to do their best at work (95 percent of mature respondents and 80 percent of millennials). These workers additionally perceive a higher morale in the workplace than other age groups, with 69 percent of millennials and 64 percent of mature workers finding a positive energy at work, compared to just a 53 percent average among other generational groups.

What is your Millennial perspective?

Learn more about transformative leadership here. 

As most of this criticism is coming from older workers, we asked one of TRACOM’s youngest employees, Sierra Charter, to share her perspective on her own generation. Sierra is a full-time student at Colorado State University and a part-time employee of TRACOM.  Read her reponse “A Milliennial Responds to Generational Criticisms“.

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