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You are regarded as one of the Millennials if you were born between about 1982 and the early years of this century. It is not a precise science, though.

According to The Millennial Legacy if you were born before 1982ish you may consider yourself Generation Y which was very different from the bad behavioural traits of Generation X.

The Legacy says that Generation Y are coming of age in a time of ‘extreme economic uncertainty and societal change’ which is true.

On behaviour, ‘all youth risk behaviours have decreased over the last fifteen years, including drug use, teen pregnancy, and youth violence. Furthermore, we are very close to our families, especially our parents. Family is very important to Millennials, so much so in fact that a 2010 Pew Research Center survey found that the number one goal of the majority of Millennials is “to be a good parent.” But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Every twenty years or so, a new generation with certain features comes of age.

What’s Different About the Millennials?

The Ivey Business Journal’s Jay Gilbert published a piece a couple of years ago, identifying how a new set of engagement policies are needed for this new generation.

Currently in charge are the ‘Baby boomers’ (post war up to the mid 1960s). Gilbert wrote, ‘research has shown that boomers identify their strengths as organizational memory, optimism, and their willingness to work long hours. This generation grew up in organizations with large corporate hierarchies, rather than flat management structures and teamwork-based job roles.’

He reckoned that ‘Millennials have a drastically different outlook on what they expect from their employment experience. Millennials are well educated, skilled in technology, very self-confident, able to multi-task, and have plenty of energy. They have high expectations for themselves, and prefer to work in teams, rather than as individuals.’

He went on, ‘Millennials seek challenges, yet work life balance is of utmost importance to them. They do, however, realize that their need for social interaction, immediate results in their work, and desire for speedy advancement may be seen as weaknesses by older colleagues.’

Employers Need to Be Aware

Loubna Larousssi of the Cirrus Connect, leadership consultants, wrote in the Daily Telegraph a summary of tips for handling, understanding and allowing Millennials to develop in the workplaces.

He wrote that Millennials ‘have high expectations of themselves, their leaders and the companies they work for. They seek constant feedback and recognition, they question authority and hierarchy, and want to be promoted — fast.

He added that the line they walk between work and play is ‘blurred and they are never far from a piece of technology. It’s obvious why so many leaders find managing them a tricky task.’

So, here are the key points to understanding Millennials:

The Big Why
They need to make connections between what they do and why
Give feedback
Regular good or bad feedback will help them stay focussed and motivated
Recognition
Explicitly recognising contributions has an immediate positive effect on them
Praise
Public and private praise builds profiles, confidence and more effort
Multitaskers
They are natural multitaskers, so a range of projects stretches and develops them
Resilience
Millennials need to be shown that failure isn’t the end, resilience is a process to leadership
Flexibility
They want it in everything, from office hours and locations to working practices
Rewards
Salary alone may not be what’s needed – ask, and what rewards they ask for may be surprising to older generations
Think CV
Millennials are mobile and move jobs if they are not developing, so employers have to provide CV-enhancing opportunities

If you are of that age group, does all that sound right for you? Feel you’ve been pigeon-holed?

Image: Borodikhin