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Millennials Are Not From Mars

- March 22, 2013 - 1 Comment

Having worked together with different generations, it’s obvious there are different styles of working and approaching situations. We heard a stat that by 2020, 50% of all US workers will be Millennials.  Even for us it’s hard to believe that it is only 7 years away.  What we wanted to explore today is with all these people coming into the workforce how can our managers / mentors in Cisco prepare themselves for these people.         You can read all over the web that statistically Millennials are the most educated and technologically savvy generation ever. For many of this generation, going to university or college was just the norm.  We love using technology, be it social media, mobile devices, or streaming TV.  Many of us have never had a beta or VHS challenge, and very soon we’ll have new hires that have not known the world without the Internet.

Things you should know about us:

1. Purpose.
We grew up in the time of unlimited access to information. We are constantly reading news and updates from around the world. This made us ask why, and how we can make a difference. Coming into a corporate environment, we want to know how what we are doing is making a difference.  Even if what we do is fixing bugs in a line of code.  Help us see how what we are doing will impact the company and drive growth. This will allow us to be more engaged and brought into the work and will motivate us to go the extra mile.

2.  Communication is key. We grew up in a generation where everything is instant from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube.  Think about Twitter, if we post a thought we get instant feedback from potentially the whole world.  Our generation is extremely social.  We are constantly sharing and are always connected.  We have tons of ideas and want to be involved in the discussion making. Since we have grown up in a very collaborative way it has become normal for us.   Ask us for our opinion on how we should do something or how we could change a process.  Not all of our ideas will be good, but you might get a new point of view on things, and we will feel engaged and motivated.

3.  Motivate.
Our generation is very entrepreneurial and needs leaders (you) who can inspire and embrace this while providing learning and mentorship opportunities.  We strive for frequent, timely feedback and recognition (private or public). This allows us to know when we
are on the right track.  Encouragement is very important for us. Things that might motivate us might be leading a team meeting, working on side
initiatives to grow leadership skills (as in volunteering, ERGs etc.), working with other departments or regions, or being given the opportunity to teach the team on something we know.

Do you have Gen-Y’ers in your team? How do you keep them engaged? Share your ideas below.

Müge Erman and Christopher Jen

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  1. I have volunteered for 4 years as co-curator of TEDxBerkeley at UC Berkeley. I work with and mentor honor students from the Regents and Chancellor Scholarship Association (RCSA)to put on a large annual event of 1200+ attendees. I therefore work closely with millenials who are very smart on a regular basis. I think you have captured essential qualities. I would also add that in my experience, millenials aren't very hierarchial. They can be inclusive and generous but prefer to be leading themselves in some ways to be motivated. So for instance, when I am managing marketing or operations, it has worked better to divide marketing up into pieces they can own (social media, PR...) and run with and give them space to express their originality and creativity. Instead of telling them what to do and assigning tasts, I let them know what we want to accomplish and ways they can do it and then provide direction and feedback after they try their own approach. With the Gen X and Baby Boomer volunteers I work with, it is easier for me to present a project plan with specific tasks for them to track.