A generation that grew up with the internet has entered the workforce, and they’ve begun to make demands that some managers find uncomfortable. Millennials & Management addresses some of the generational disconnects between Baby Boomers/Generation X and the fresh faces of Generation Y.
The most difficult part of this book is coming to terms with the word millennial; a vague term used to describe those of us born anywhere between the early 80s and early 00s (Wikipedia agrees). The term encapsulates several distinct sets of young adults: those entering the workforce around the time the .com bubble burst; those entering the workforce post-9/11; and those still struggling to find jobs after entering the workforce in the currently receding recession. Fortunately, it does not generally include those whipper-snappers born with a cell phone in their hand.
From a series of surveys with millennials (1980-2000), Gen Xers (1960-1980), and Baby Boomers (1945-1960), the author finds that this generation has very different aspirations from their parents. Millennials saw their parents grow old slagging through a job they hated with the dream of a big fat pension waiting for them when they retire. Millennials were told they could achieve anything and would be rewarded for perfect attendence. Millennials want to live life to the fullest while they’re young and when they retire. Millennials think they’re entitled to work wherever they want whenever they want wearing whatever they want. Millennials are pretty much the reason that iPhones exist.
The author discusses her own company’s struggle to fit Generation Y into company culture. Her experiences arevery relevant and highly laudable, evolving from a crotchity old boss complaining about kids and their cell phones to an approachable, flexible manager who sits in the cube area with her employees and allows for remote work when appropriate. She describes how millennials want to be happy in their work, and thus always on the lookout for greener pastures. This causes a lot of turnover for younger employees who don’t believe they are living up to their full potential or don’t think they are being respected.
There is advice in this book for managing millennials mostly revolving around being more flexible for a modern electronic world. Being a part of Gen Y myself, I was doing a lot of mental head-nodding and “yeah, that’s how I want to be treated” during most chapters. However, there were a few areas where the author’s advice is essentially to pander to millennials, which I don’t necessarily agree with. There needs to be compromise and understanding on both sides every time.
The author also includes advice for millennials dealing with superiors and co-workers. Some of this advice is common sense and good manners, sometimes making it sound like it’s aimed towards snot-nosed kids; but generally the advice provided is valid and good to follow. I didn’t pick up any one-liners after reading this book, but I certainly found it helpful (and interesting) to see inside the heads of individuals with a Generation X or Boomer mindset. I think it will help me empathize with my more mature peers when discussing my career and ideas that are important in my working life.
Who Would Like This
It’s in the title. Millennials should be able to scrape some empathy out of this book for more mature generations, and maybe even for other millennials. Managers can also get an eye-opening view into how Generation Y thinks, especially managers having trouble relating to younger generations. Parents just don’t understand, after all. A good, short read for both sides of the equation.