When you hear the term millennial, what do you think of? I searched it on google and adjectives like lazy and entitled were the first to pop up. In my last blog post I wrote about the advantages of diversity in leadership in terms of race and gender. This week, Momentum welcomes Tamara Thorpe, an organizational development consultant and national expert on leveraging multi-generational talent. As a millennial myself, I was anxious to do a little digging into Tamara’s topic ahead of her visit.
In the next five years, the percentage of Millennials in the workforce is predicted to increase from 40% to 60%. The Boomer and Gen X generations will get a lot more out of millennials if they are able to leverage the strengths of my generation, and we have quite a few!
Here are the top four millennial strengths from my point of view:
In the 1970s the median age for marriage was 23. Now it’s 30. Millennials want to marry (70%) and also want to have kids (74%). However, delaying those life changing decisions gives millennials more time to focus on career and life experiences before bearing the additional responsibilities that come with family life. That can only bode well for employers looking to leverage millennial’s independence and flexibility.
Previous generations were obsessed with owning things, such as a house, car, TVs, and garages full of “stuff.” Millennials tend to value experiences over assets, and those experiences make them highly adaptable to various environments. Millennials want to be ready to seize an opportunity should it arise. It’s why 60% of millennials opt to rent rather than buy their home. Because experience is valued over consumption, millennials are highly adaptable to changing circumstances.
Millennials are the first generation of true “digital natives.” We were born with access to the Internet and a constant evolution of new communication channels. Older generations fear that all of this technology results in poor communication skills, but I would argue that the many social platforms millennials use increase awareness and compassion for the world around them. I am constantly impressed by my generation’s knowledge of social causes and their desire to come together to make a difference. Social business models are emerging rapidly, and millennials are highly aware of businesses that make a positive difference in the world.
I’ve read plenty of rants calling millennials entitled and lazy. But I will argue that most millennials are an ambitious lot. First of all, there are 75-90 million of us depending on how you count…that’s the largest generation in American history. That’s also a lot of competition. It’s harder for millennials to get into school, land their first job, and get their first promotion. Only the more ambitious ones will make it and we know it. Tamara Thorpe says, “[millennials] aren’t afraid to question authority and ask for what they want, which is to be included and involved.” Close ties to family have created a confident generation. We also know that our confidence has to be paired with hard work or it’s just entitlement. But we don’t want to do busy work to just “pay the dues” or “do your time”–we want to do meaningful work that makes a difference. And when we do, letting us know will fuel our ambition and drive.
Every generation has strengths and weaknesses, which is why we should embrace the diversity in order to leverage everyone’s talents.
We look forward to welcoming Tamara Thorpe this week to learn how to tap into the potential in every generation to become effective and authentic leaders, millennials and all.
Goldman Sachs. (2017) Millennials Infographic. Retrieved from Goldman Sachs:
Thorpe, Tamara. (2017) Let a Millennial Mentor You. Retrieved from Tamara Thorpe’s website: http://tamarathorpe.com/free-stuff/