Make way for the millennials

Confident, creative and uber-connected, or cocky, conformist and cosseted, "millennials" - typically defined as those who came of age around the turn of the millennium - are in many ways the antithesis of their Generation X managers.

If Generation X were the "latchkey kids", Thatcher and the Sex Pistols, then millennials are the nanny state, Blair and Britain's Got Talent. Not so much a generation gap as a culture clash.

This makes managing millennials a potentially challenging experience, but one that promises great rewards for those who can get to grips with what motivates, engages and inspires this new generation.

"Millennials offer boundless enthusiasm, curiosity, ambition and energy," says Man Bites Dog MD Claire Mason. "What we are looking at is a generation of hard-working, intelligent young people who are carving out careers in a really tough labour market and who value meaning and lifestyle, not just money."

Matt Carter, founder of Message House and former CEO of Burson-Marsteller, sees millennials as "more connected via technology, more globally networked and travelled, less wedded to a career and more demanding of employers and life in general" than previous generations.

This demanding nature can come across as entitlement and is no doubt influenced by the fact that millennials have grown up in one of the most child-centric periods in history.

This has made them "confident in their own worth and direct about what they want", in Mason's view. "They expect meaningful and interesting work - not unreasonably - and to be given a forum to express their views and be listened to," she adds.

At the same time their immersion in the internet and technology has made millennials both tech-savvy and open-minded, but unused to delayed gratification.

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