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Millennials at Work – How to Get What You Want!

You have grown up in a time when you have been encouraged to question things.  To ask how things work, to question processes, to challenge the status quo. You are impatient for outcomes and if there is an easier way, you don’t question the change, in fact you embrace it.

You are creative thinkers and problem solvers.  You see your career as simply a vehicle to live the life you dream about.  You believe there are more important things, like really living life, soaking up experiences, spending time with family, friends and pursuing your individual passions, whatever that may look like for you.

Having started your careers amid challenging economic times, you have had to adapt.  You want more and you are not afraid to ask for it.

I am a Gen X born in 1972, which officially makes me ‘middle age’ (definition according to the Oxford English Dictionary middle age is: “The period between early adulthood and old age, usually considered as the years from about 45 to 65.”), which is kind of scary as I still feel exactly the same as I did at your age!  But being middle age comes with some perks, like it probably makes me, or someone around my vintage your boss!

I have watched you come into the workforce and your approach excites me!  You are changing things in our workplaces, simply through being yourselves. In being loud and demanding about what you need and want, well what you desire at work has now become standard conversation, it’s now becoming the norm.

What Millennials Want

So, what do you want?  I did a mini survey with a group of Millennials, specifically asking what you want at work.  Naturally I reached out via social media and you were quick to respond allowing me to gather 25 responses overnight (awesome!! Thanks guys!).  The results showed that while your career is not the most important thing in your life (family come out as a firm number 1 in terms of importance, with personal growth coming in a firm number 2),   80% of the group I surveyed see themselves in a ‘career role’ – something that is moving you along a career path they have determined, rather than just a ‘job’ – something that pays the bills. So while its not number 1 on your priority list, you still have ambitions in terms of career.

When making a choice on the kind of role you will take and the company you want to work for, the group I surveyed said their decision is influenced by:

  1. The type of work they will be doing;
  2. The ‘culture’ of the workplace.
  3. Future growth opportunities.

When asked to define ‘workplace culture’ several themes arose.  The group talked about workplace culture as being the key ingredient when it comes to success.  It was defined as being about team work, the vibe of the place and the thing that makes brings you back every day. It was clear that the group has experienced both good and bad cultures, with many talking about it being the thing that would make or break their experience and how long they stay.

Millennials Want Three Things

Finally, when asked what their leaders can do more of to engage them, the message was loud and clear.  You want three things from your leaders:

  1. Communication.  You want to know what the goal is (outcome) and you want to know what the rules are before you start the game (clear expectations set). You also want to be coached along the way.  You want regular feedback, not just once a year, you want it every day. You appreciate a direct approach, for your leader to tell you how you are going, to coach you, to lead you, to let you know where you are doing well and where you can improve.
  2. Trust.  You want your leaders to be authentic and transparent, so you can trust them.  You also want your leaders to trust you. You recognise trust is earned and ask that your leaders give you permission to be show up as your whole self through being real with you and letting you see them for who they are as a person.
  3. Respect. You want your leaders to show you respect.  To acknowledge and validate you for your contribution.  To hear you, to ask for your feedback, to allow you to participate, provide feedback and to really listen when you do.  Its not about whether they take your ideas on board 100% of the time, it’s more about respecting what you bring to the table.

As I said above, as a Millennial you are changing things in our workplaces for the better. In being loud and demanding about what you need and want at work, you are pushing everyone in a leadership role to focus on their workplace culture and to focus on how they lead. So how do you keep moving in the right direction?  How do you ensure you get what you want and need? I would like to offer two pieces of advice.

  1. Be patient and embrace the struggle! I get you are in a hurry.  You want more – more responsibility, more satisfaction, more fun, more opportunity, more money and you want it yesterday!  But stop trying to skip the struggle! That’s where you develop your skill set to lead. Embrace the good and the bad. Learn from it. Grow from it.
  2. Keep disrupting! You are resourceful and open to trying to new things.  You are not bound by how things have always been done and you are willing to speak up if something is not working.  We need more of this. Forge that old adage ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’, hell keep on breaking stuff! Keep on challenging the status quo, challenging long held thoughts and views (in a respectful way of course!) and challenging the leaders in your workplace to do better, so you can be reach your potential.

So, here’s to each of you!

In the words of ― Rob Siltanen

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

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