How would you finish this sentence: “Millennials are _____”? Maybe “selfish”? A lot of people might choose “lazy.” How about, “generous”? Didn’t expect that, did you?
Every organization has a hierarchy, both on the staff side and on the member/volunteer side. And while the business world has been talking about “flattening” organizations for some time now, the truth is hierarchies are actually a good thing, so we shouldn’t try to get rid of them.
Ever since the Millennials started coming into the workforce about 10 years ago, we’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about them. This happens every twenty years, of course – when the new generation hits the scene, the older generations tend to freak out about “kids these days.” You can actually trace these kinds of reactions back for centuries. The older generations always conclude that the new generation is flawed, inappropriate, ill-prepared and generally making things difficult.
Generations expert (and my co-author and partner) Jamie Notter recently posted this extensive article detailing some numbers research he has been doing around exactly how many Millennials there are. It’s important stuff, so I’m going to interrupt my regular column to point you to it. Here’s an excerpt:
There is a big problem brewing on the horizon for many organizations. Based on our research, the Millennial generation is coming into the workforce expecting something that most, especially associations, are truly bad at: speed.
Today’s “new normal” involves continuous change, which is something the Millennial generation has simply come to expect. But those of us who are older and running things inside associations (including our online communities) have always tried to build things that last. We like consistency. We like things to stay the same. This is a challenge.
This may sound like odd advice from someone who wrote a book titled, “When Millennials Take Over,” but it’s important that we don’t become too obsessed with the Millennial generation right now. Yes, they are the largest generation in the history of the United States, and yes, I think it’s critical to learn about this generation’s perspective, given the unique and influential spot they hold in our history.
Millennials certainly grew up with a lot of “screen time.” They like texting and sending instant messages, and they obviously have been a dominant force in just about every social media platform. They are truly the digital natives. But that does not mean they don’t want and need face-to-face communication.
The Millennial generation grew up with unparalleled abundance. Not a lot of generational authors mention this. They tend to focus more on the influence of the internet and social media, which is, of course, understandable. But the abundance piece is equally important.