Welcome to the second part of “Team Member Segmentation in the Workplace.” We’ve already observed the habits of the Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers and discussed some general characteristics of each. In this final installment, we’ll explore the fascinating and curious world of the Millennial. Additionally, we’ll discuss some tips to help you manage a generationally diverse workplace. Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the Millennial’s work day.

Subject Number 3: Millennial

8:37 am: Subject arrives at office. Has cup of organic, fair trade coffee in one hand and watching a YouTube clip on iPhone with the other hand.

9:00 am: Subject settles in at desk. Checks Facebook account. Checks work email. Checks personal email. Checks Facebook account. Checks Twitter. Checks Facebook account. Turns on Pandora “Work Jamz” station.

10:17 am: Subject breaks for a short World of Warcraft session. Looks over shoulder, puts on headphones, and cues up “Slow Jamz” station on Pandora.

4:47 pm: Subject changes Facebook status to indicate he is leaving work for the day, shuts down computer, and leaves for the day.

A little background information

Millennials (1981-2000) grew up in a period of relative stability compared to previous generations. As such, many millennials are optimistic and confident.  This generation has been referred to as “the most watched” as they spawned “the play date” as young children followed by the plethora of after school activities that so many still participate in today.  Technologically speaking, millennials are the most connected generation of the three.  They are tech-natives, having been raised in an age when most households have at least one computer. They are comfortable with the changes from version to version of various technologies, most having already owned and programmed multiple cell phones in their lifetimes!  They are accustomed to constantly-streaming feedback, available at the push of a button.  Other Millennial characteristics include:

  • Skilled multi-taskers…however can also be impatient
  • Open to and seek out collaboration with others
  • Crave personalization and customization

So, Now what do I do?

So, what can you, Mr. or Mrs. CEO, manager, team leader, etc. learn from this fake, but telling, study?  While there is no “silver bullet,” the point we’re trying to make here is that to successfully lead a diverse workforce, one must consider the generational differences that exist on his or her team.  Each generation brings a different set of work habits and personal values to the table. By no means are we saying that an individual’s work ethic is characterized strictly by his or her generation. However, research suggests that age does significantly influence behavior in the workplace. And failure to account for generational differences can result in miscommunication, confusion, tension, and a generally unhappy team of employees. With that in mind, let’s take just a moment to review a model designed to help you avoid such pitfalls.

You can’t please everyone all the time.  However, in their book Generations at Work, authors Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, and Bob Filipczak present a model that seeks to create an inclusive work environment for each of the aforementioned generations.  The model is entitled “The ACORN Imperatives”.  ACORN stands for the following:

Accommodate employee differences. Use what you personally know about each individual employee, as well as what you know about the characteristics of his or her generation, to tailor your management style. Be flexible.

Create workplace choices. Whenever possible, give employees multiple options for completing tasks. Again, be flexible.

Operate from a sophisticated management style. Get to know your employees and tailor your management style according to what yields the best results. Models such as situational leadership will help you accomplish this.

Respect (and Recognize) competence and initiative.  Rewards and recognition are big motivators for everyone. Rewards don’t necessarily have to be tied directly to compensation ... they don’t even have to be tangible. Often times an informal, verbal recognition of a job well done is all it takes to keep a team member motivated to keep up the good work.

Nourish retention. The whole goal of this blog summed up in two words. You want to accommodate your team so that you retain talent. Nourish retention by investing in your team’s professional development. For example, demonstrate your commitment by providing your team with quality training opportunities and in-services.

In today’s diverse workforce, one must consider the generational differences and that each generation – and person - brings a different set of work habits and personal values to the table.  Embrace the diversity.  Great summer picnics offer plenty to choose from; bar-b-que, sandwiches, cole slaw, chips, veggies, desserts – and yes, potato salad.  If all you had was potato salad and nothing else – it would make for a pretty lame picnic.  It’s no silver bullet, but if you follow the ACORN principals, you are likely to grow an engaged and happy workforce in your business!




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