Monday, June 16, 2014

Millennials don't trust you

Good leaders must remember that you can't motivate everyone in the same way. You would manage someone in their 50s differently from how you manage someone in their 30s. Every generation responds to different motivators, and they maintain unique perspectives.

I recently uncovered this research from the Pew Research Center, about Millennials in Adulthood. An article at the Washington Post summarizes the findings as Millennials don't trust you. Millennials range from about 18 to about 33, so if they aren't in your workforce today, they will soon join it. So it's important to understand what motivates them.

Need a reminder of which generation is which? A quick primer: My generation is Generation X (aged around 34 to 49). Gen X is sometimes called the "Star Wars Generation" because we saw Star Wars in the theaters, and Han shot first. Ahead of us is the Boomer Generation (aged around 50-68) and the Silent Generation (aged around 69 to 86).

From the Washington Post article:

1. Millennials generally don't trust others.
Look at the Pew data. Only 19% agree with the statement "Generally speaking, people can be trusted." Compare that with 31% of Gen X, 40% of Boomers, and 37% of Silents. I don't think you need to look far to understand why. Millennials were on the front line in the Occupy movement, disillusioned with corporate control. This influenced their general perspective; as a result, Millennials generally don't trust others.
2. Millennials think the future is bright.
Sure, Millennials don't believe Social Security will be there for them when they retire, but they do maintain some hope for the future. Almost half (49%) think our best days are ahead of us. They remain optimistic about the future.
3. Millennials are burdened by debt.
The Recession, doubled with few new job opportunities, has made it difficult for Millennials to recover financially. Stagnant job growth means more Millennials competing for the same entry level positions. And without gainful employment, it's hard to pay off those college loans. We talk about the high cost of education today, but Millennials are experiencing this first-hand.
4. It's okay to use your phone wherever you are.
No doubt that you've seen this where you work. You might be in a meeting, and someone's phone goes off. Rather than send the call to voicemail, Millennials answer the phone in the meeting. They may not even excuse themselves from the meeting room to take the call. As "Digital Natives," Millennials grew up with technology everywhere in their lives. Mobile phones became a natural extension of who they are, so naturally they support more phone usage. The mobile phone culture has shifted.
5. Millennials share everything.
The Washington Post article focuses on the "selfie," but I view this as a general trend of sharing everything. Millennials view privacy differently; they share everything, whether it's a selfie on vacation, or a photo of the hamburger they're about to eat.

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