How Will Millennials Manage?

Gen Yers or "millennials"—those born beginning in the late 1970s—are generally bright, cheery, seemingly well-adjusted, and cooperative, says Jim Heskett. Their work styles are sometimes confounding, though. As managers, how will they shape organizations of the future? Online forum now closed.
by Jim Heskett

Summing Up

Are we approaching a "millennial watershed" in management? The next generation of managers, comprising many "millennials," will be more adept at managing in a changing, global, and networked environment. They will do it with a greater emphasis on teamwork, facility for the use of technology, and sensitivity to needs for work/life balance. This is the predominant collective response from many who responded to this month's topic, "How Will Millennials Manage?" It may be at odds with Michael Norman's observation that "every generation in America seems to look at its successor as beneath their own."

There were a number of suggestions about how millennials might manage differently from their predecessors. For example, Bette Price said, "… this group will be fine managers … we may see more managers/leaders who truly do care about others, thus invigorate their teams and provide cultures that are profitable not because they are forced to, but because they want to." David Mullings added, "We will in fact treat our employees the way we expect to be treated." Phil Clark said, "This generation will not put up with talk and no action." In Diomande Yantoulaye's opinion, "As managers, millennials strongly diffuse responsibility/accountability at individual levels in their organizations … their willingness to continuously acquire knowledge makes them capable people for shaping organizations in turbulent time(s)." August Ray said, "They will work long and hard, provided they care." Phil Dourado suggests that they will reward their subordinates for changing things rather than maintaining the status quo.

At the same time, there were others who find the entire subject overblown. For example, Alice Richmond commented, "Take the label away, and you won't find the trend." Kevin Brady added, "I find such broad generalizations hard to believe." As Susan RoAne put it, "Gen Y and the Millennials will manage to manage just as those who went before them." Pointing out that millennials will come to appreciate their predecessors over time, Fred Olande commented, " … life is just a circle and we all transit from one level to another …." And there were some worries as well. Mike Flanagan fears that because of the emergence of means of communication such as email, among others, that "the new disinterested treatment of our fellow man will be the norm, not the exception."

Just how millennials realize their full potential as managers was a matter of discussion. According to Mou Sengupta, "It is the job of … mentors in terms of how they prepare their leaders for the coming years."

Generational differences related to the development of millennials comprise, according to Muder Chiba, "a global phenomenon." Amy Lynch concurred, saying, "When I talk with recruiters for international firms, they say a lot about how similar Gen Y is around the world." As Siva Subramaniam put it, "The millennials will become to the whole world what the baby boomers (were) to America … but in a more sustainable, emancipating, and humanizing way."

Will all of this happen faster than in the past, given the pace of change and the capabilities combined with the impatience of millennials to which some respondents referred? As one of them, Jesse Shephard, put it, "Will we be great leaders? I can't wait to find out. Can you?" Are we, as Colin Morgan suggested, talking about a generation "somewhat on the hinge"? Are we about to enter a "millennial watershed" in management? And can millennials live up to the high expectations that many of us have for them as managers? What do you think?

Original Article

Nothing seems to set off managers I talk with more than the topic of managing Gen Yers, otherwise known as "millennials," those born beginning in the late 1970s. Here's what they tell me:

They are generally bright, cheery, seemingly well-adjusted, and cooperative. They'll pull an "all-nighter" for a good reason, but they won't let that kind of thing intrude regularly on their personal lives. Their work styles are sometimes confounding. They need to work in a social environment, often one that would appear to some of us as chaotic. This means, however, that they are very good at working in teams. They are good at multi-tasking, understand how to employ technology productively, and as a result can often produce good work at what appears to be the last minute. They are focused on their own personal development. They want an accelerated path to success, often exaggerate the impact of their own contributions, are not willing "to pay the price," and have little fear of authority. As a result, they are often not a good bet for long-term employment, because they are quite willing to seek other employment (or no employment) rather than remain in a job in which they are not growing. They want their managers to understand their needs and lay out career options. As the authors of a recent book, Managing the Generation Mix, put it, they demand "the immediate gratification of making an immediate impact by doing meaningful work immediately." In short, they are high maintenance, high risk, and often high output employees.

The millennials with whom I work constantly are an exceptional subset of this group. While they exhibit some of the characteristics described above, they are incredibly bright and willing to do what it takes to get something accomplished, global in their outlook, and deeply concerned about social issues. In short, they are challenging and highly stimulating. So I may have an admittedly warped view of the generation.

A great deal has been written about how millennials got that way. Of course, the rise of the Internet has influenced their outlook, behaviors, and skills. Some think it is a product of the affluence of their childhood. Others attribute it to Baby Boomer parents more devoted to their children than those of other generations, with children who regard them as "pals" as well as parents. Some ascribe it to a society in which children are taught to believe that there are no winners or losers. As one friend puts it, "They have a closet full of trophies without ever having won anything." Yet others talk about their having observed the way the rest of us have lived our lives (two jobs, too much time away from home, ironically perhaps to provide for their needs) and vowing that they will not live their lives that way.

There seems to a fixation these days on millennials as employees. But what kind of managers will they make? Given the earlier reflections, one might conclude that they will never make it into the ranks of management. Of course many will.

This raises a number of questions: Will they be as sensitive to the needs of those in their employ as they want their managers to be with them? Will they open up their organizations more widely to global opportunities? Will they create work environments in which jobs fit into personal life styles rather than vice-versa? Will they encourage mobility in their employees? Or will they express the same concerns as those for whom they currently work? What do you think?

To read more:
Carolyn Martin and Bruce Tulgan, Managing the Generation Mix, 2nd Edition (HRD Press, 2006).

    • Anonymous
    As a fellow millienial myself, I couldn't help but identify with almost every characteristic described above. However, I think there should be little question about millenial's management/leadership qualities. While millenials strive to best their parent's successes or avenge their failures, holding themselves and others to the highest standards possible, we also like to have fun and build as many lasting relationships as possible: keeping the college feel alive I guess. Plus, our parents wished the best for us, encouraging us and challenging us to be our best, go to the best college, get the best job, marry the right girl etc. So now there is an entire generation of employees who don't complain about challenges, they seek them. So if we jump around until we find what best suits our skill set, be happy that we have guts to make tough decisions and stare down the status quo; we will need this trait later when we are leading an organization on a grander scale. Finally, we want to feel satisfied on all levels, but most importantly, satisfied at work, that's where we spend 60% of our waking hours. So when we find our ideal nesting stop, we will be better suited to enter the roll of manager. In the meantime, give us time to figure out exactly where we are going. The oldest millenials are on either side of 30.
    • Meenalochani
    • Associate, MindTree Consulting Limited
    Today's organizations that are fast paced and constantly changing cannot do without millenials in my view. The best example would be to peek into an IT organization.As much as millenials can ruffle feathers for good or bad, they seem to be in demand as never before. Millenials are a volcanic breed who can spurt energy into the system and get things moving at a pace inconprehensible at times.

    Having been in the HR space for about a decade, I have experienced millenials as being emotional, enthusiastic, energetic and empowerment focused. Having said that, the other side of the coin is also that they can be ruthless when success is concerned. They, however, act as great change catalysts. They are able to space work life quite well and have strong personal and professional aspirations. Many of the millenials are receptive to rational feedback, which is the key for organizations to move ahead.

    Millenials DO make good managers and they are the employees who are in sync with the current need !
    • Muder Chiba
    • Executive Vice President, TNS India
    So it's actually a global phenomenon. Out here in India, we have been seeing this generation which requires 'quick gratification'; the feeling is that this generation has grown up in a comparative era of plenty, not the era of scarcity, and this has fuelled this attitude. This generation is productive in ways that the earlier generation has not been and is possibly far more alive to global networking concepts. They're the adapters and I rather suspect that they will thrive even when they become managers. Their managerial styles and decisions may not look similar to the ones adopted today but that's fine. They will be managers of their times and not of the past.
    • Anonymous
    It's strange for me to say, "I'm a millenial," because I don't think of myself as being part of a greater mindset tied to a specific date range. However, I am a millenial, and I do fit, in large part, the description above. I am ambitious but not overly committed. I prefer to work as a consultant because I am not chained to one company. I am a problem solver by nature, and I want to get immediately to the problem solving. I'm not interested in meaningless titles, mine or anyone else's, and I'm not willing to enslave myself to attain a position with a great title and no depth of purpose. I don't want the appearance of success. I want the integral satisfaction of succeeding. I want to make a lot of money, but only if I have time to spend it, and I'm more interested in health care and vacation than bonuses that I'd have to work too much to get and work too much to enjoy.

    My family and my pursuit of knowledge for knowledge's sake are more important to me than any particular job, with any particular company. I have confidence in myself, my marketability, and my ability to put my nose to the grindstone when it is necessary. I'm interested in being as efficient and productive as possible, but not every second of every day, and not under someone else's thumb.

    I think that, if I am representative of millenials, then my generation doesn't buy into blind loyalty, and impressive but misleading statistics. We don't think we should have to sacrifice ourselves for the good of the company and take what they decide to give us, or measure our success by social comparison. We are the bridge between the old and the new, and the best hope of riding the transition from analog to digital and finding a happy, efficient, productive medium, because we grew up under the old regime and we took stock of where and how the system failed the individual. We started our education in the analog system, where computers were fun but too expensive and too cumbersome to be widely used, and we ended it amidst the rise of the digital age. We are the generation that can do our math problems long hand, on a graphing calculator, in MS Excel, or maybe write our own application to do it. We can bridge the gaps in knowlege and relate to the older and the younger generations. At least I can.

    How will we be in management? Well, I am in management, and I do try to be as sensitive to the needs of my direct reports as I would want any manager to be with me. I try to anticipate potential conflicts by knowing them as individuals, and searching for compromises before conflict arises. Would I open up my organization more widely to global opportuntities? Definitely. I am not scared of other cultures or languages, and am not unwilling to compromise in order to foster mutually beneficial situations. I am not lost in political correctness to the point where I can't see cultural differences for what they are and find ways to change processes to suit those differences and still maintain continuity.

    Will we create work environments in which jobs fit into personal life styles rather than vice-versa? I am doing my damdnest. Not only for others, but for myself. No doubt some of the concerns will remain, but maybe the difference in perspectives will lead to solutions to some of those concerns.

    We are in an age of specialization, and the rules have changed. The greatest change I see is in hiring and retention. Business which are not adapting, and remain married to the process of blindly searching for degrees and certifications, and who judge employee reliability based on "time served" at other companies are failing to attract, hire, or retain the high knowledge workers. They are top heavy on authoritarians who treat employees like children, and they are going to suffer the most in change management as retirement hits. And, then they'll come-a-calling. There may currently be a resistance to turning executive roles over to my generation, but the reality is we are the ones best suited to weather and/or foster the imminent and necessary change which result from the mass retirement of the baby boomers.
    • Mou Sengupta
    • Sr. Manager, ABP Pvt. Ltd
    Millennials have the right set of fundamentals, team work, positive frame of mind, flexibility and openness to changes. The global but the true challenge is in their "stickiness" which might hinder their ability to be managers.

    I would not use the word loyalty, as due to their professional approach and passion for success, millennials are loyal to the organization that they work for till they work for it.

    But to be managers, they have to learn to go through good and bad times. The Millennials are more motivated at the hard times but view the "all's well" time as dull. They fail to see the less challenging times as a waiting and planning phase. In the so-called dull times, Millennials gets demotivated and impatient and hop jobs because they feel that taking challenges head on, and succeeding is the only way to success at the pace that they want to reach the top.

    The employer's real task would be to help these Millennials visualize and prepare for what lies ahead. Beyond the so-called "non action" period. To help them realize that the phases of conceptualization and incubation of the concept through a planning stage successfully are valued as much as the action phase.

    They can't have high tide all their lives by changing jobs and reach the top and more importantly stay there, if in their mid careers they do not appreciate "dull" times (the preparatory stage).

    The senior management/employer has to guide the Millennials and help them realize the concept of "investment years in a career" i.e the years that the candidate invests in his or her own preparation to take up much higher challenges than those available in the near future by letting go of small gains.

    The mentor has to help them realize that the fruits of such long term benefits are far more attractive than what they are missing now. It is the job of these mentors to help the millennials distinguish between success short term and real success, which would define the sphere in which these Millennials reach by the time he or she decides to retire. (To aim at the top and more importantly prepare for that.)

    The mentor has to be confident enough to lead these men and women towards the choices that they make. If they don't, the early kill in their careers would soon dwindle in numbers and they might be exposed to stagnancy at mid-management level.

    The task here is more on the employer and more precisely on the mentors in terms of how they prepare their leaders for the coming years.

    If that is achieved and the stickness is achieved, being a team person and passionate about success would bring about a promising job environment.
    • CJ Cullinane
    The Generation Y'ers have been greatly influenced by the internet, computers, as well as cell phones and digital games. They have a great sense of being attached to others by cell phone, instant messaging, and e-mail. But how much of this communication is productive?

    Their education does not seem to point them towards engineering or science. They have been raised in an era of global business and easy credit. These factors all can influence the millenials positively or negatively.

    I feel these influences will have a positive effect on the millenials' work and business style. Online education, global project management, and outsourcing will develop an international orientation. But I also feel this generation will also feel the intense competition of global business and the tightening of the economy and these factors will be the determining factors of their 'business style'.

    Only they can decide what road to take, use the iPhone for a business deal or to listen to music.
    • Anonymous
    This article seems to say more about the expectations of aging baby boomer managers than it does about the 'millenial generation'. There is a tinge of a hazing theme expressed as if to say "this generation must endure boring, tedious, seemingly meaningless work without explanation because I had to". Doesn't this run counter to business realities in the 21 century? Doesn't it say in Collins' Good to Great that it's more important to ask what shouldn't be done than what should be?

    Of course millenials want instant gratification. Who doesn't? That's not to say they can't or won't delay their gratification when called upon. I believe it is up to managers to serve, to work on behalf of those who work for them. As such, it's important for those managers to provide some logotherapy to their subbordinates, to provide meaning for their 'suffering'. Too often I witness managers, managing out of defense of their position or title and not of their ability or desire to serve and produce the deliverables of quality leadership.

    I welcome the influx of millenials into the workforce and the ranks of management. They at least know how to type and utilize technology unlike many aging baby boomers.
    • Anonymous
    I am a millennial who fits into your description for the most part. I'm also a millennial who grew up under both Eastern and Western cultural influences. As more millennial joining the work force, I readily identified the similarity in our work styles, ways of thinking and perceiving, etc.

    Here are some differences I've observed and feedback I received from other co-workers:

    -They find it odd that we email instead of picking up the phone.

    -They think we are great with technology, although I consider myself quite average, meaning that I don't do programming as a hobby.

    -They think we are too aggressive. Thus some of them shy away from us.

    -They think that we need to learn how to balance work and life better.

    From my perspective though:

    -We don't distinguish work and life that much. Eight to five doesn't mean much anymore.

    -We pay attention to global events and businesses as if they are local.

    We strive to be leaders. Many of us are not yet in a manager role, but that won't prevent us from taking on responsibilities, managing professional relationships with different personalities vertically and horizontally.

    We are team players and independent problem solvers at the same time. Teamwork more in the sense of complimenting each other, contributing to grow value-added, discussing ideas, vs. spoon feeding information to one another.

    When we lead, manage or mentor others, we expect that same go-getter attitude and independent problem solving skill. My rule of thumb is "don't ask before you've Googled." Nonetheless, being hardworking remains essential.
    • Diane C.
    • Marketing Manager
    Thank you for an engrossing article and discussion. As the mother of a millenial who started his career a year ago, I do recognize many of his traits. As an "aging baby boomer," (ugh!) I still keep up with technology and the latest communication methods, but always enjoy listening to his feedback, and in fact we use each other as sounding boards for professional issues - I think this is mutually beneficial. I am convinced he'll grow into a good manager in the future.
    • Tice
    Plain and simple: George Gilder - Telecosm.

    We will not waste time. It, alone, is our most valuable natural resource and we will spend it how WE choose.

    We will not waste time trying to adopt a management style, we must use them all. For if we don't have time to find the right employee to fit our style, we must have the right style for all employees.

    When horses came, running was too slow. When the railroad came, horses were too slow. When the Millennials came, the Boomers were too slow.

    When cars came, the railroad was too limiting. When the net came, the phone was too limiting. When the Millennials came, Boomers . . . you get the picture, or do you?

    I'd say I'll give you time, but I won't.
    • Jesse Shepherd
    • Program Manager, Ceridian
    I'm a millennial? Who knew? Now 30, I grew up thinking I was generation X. That's what the Pepsi ads said anyway.

    Nevertheless, this article pretty much nailed me cold. I've been working and volunteering full time for eight years and I just wrapped my part time MBA; so I've no shortage of ambition. That's why it struck me as poignant that the article asked whether we'll become management. It's a question typical of the Boomers.

    My answer is this: If not us, then who? News flash, we're all of us mortal. Even as the retirement envelope is pushed, no one's going to stay in the boss's chair forever. And when today's captains step down, Millennials will be there to jump in the seat.

    I'm the youngest among my professional peers by at least a decade on average; so admittedly, I've got a chip on my shoulder. Nevertheless, I can't help but hear the lyrics of the 'ole Bye Bye, Birdie musical when this question is raised, "Kids! What's a matter with these kids today? Why can't they be like we were? Perfect in everyway! Kids!"

    It won't happen tomorrow, or overnight, but make no mistake; we will seize our opportunities to lead. Will we be great leaders? I can't wait to find out! Can you?
    • Siva Subramaniam
    The millenials will become to the whole world what the baby boomers was to America--the greatest generation that ensured continuous corporate and business domination of the world--but in a more sustainable, emancipating and humanizing way. But more importantly, the changing views that the millenial generation assimilates from a global perspective will facilitate more broadbased advances in a truly global manner because of better grasp and processing of evolving world currents and events.

    Also, a progressive understanding of what is best for the larger society through targeted prototype driven approaches based on experimentation and failure assessments will make the millenials become high impact and emancipated managers. Who knows, there is a possibility that the function of the manager as is defined in the common lexicon will itself go through major revisions, as they become at the same time highly emancipating in their job and awkwardly unsatisifed with their efforts.

    This generation grew up at a time when the world witnessed the greatest economic boom for the largest number of people in a compressed timeframe. So, they may raise the global stakes, embark on rarefied ideas and unconventional methods to achieve for themselves and their counterparts a longer lasting foundation. But at the end of the day, they are going to be more capabale of delivering the results for the needs of the time and less staid in their ability to deal with frustrations.

    The collective positive contribution of the millenials through their grasp, brilliance, determination and focus will, hopefully, erase the jaded mindviews and revolving stereotypes of the populace and strive to fix, and problem solve the cauldron of economic divides, undeveloped troublespots and illiterate life managing of their fellow global brethren.
    • Robert
    Boomers, from sociological and management perspectives, have done a lot to discredit themselves. I'm not officially a Millenial, but understand the perspective completely. As soon as Boomers entered the stage, our presidential leadership grew atrocious, productivity dropped like a rock, loyalty toward employees disappeared and "it's not my fault" became a mantra. After ceding every advantage in technology, health, fitness, economy and education this great nation once had, Boomers are now hard-pressed to figure out why their companies and work environments aren't credible or attractive. Ridiculous.
    • Anonymous
    Generally, I'm positive about millennials altho I harbor some reservations with regard to their well noted narcissism and over-inflated self-importance (recent research pegs it at over 70%, an all time high). I thought this article, if anything, was kinder toward them than is warranted for a balanced view, but still, as could be expected, some millennials in the crowd were dissatisfied. They dislike generalizations as applied to themselves but didn't have a problem applying it to "boomers".

    FWIW, I think they'll end up being better managers than we ever were, once they cut their teeth and realize they'll have to take some lessons our paths have rendered.
    • Alice Richmond
    • VP - Bus Devel, SimplyRFID
    What is it that would cause an entire generation to exhibit similar characteristics? Something in the stars? Are we incorporating astrology into our business analysis? Boomers (of which I am one) don't seem to trend alike to me, and the only thing I see in common in Millennials is a tendency to have electronic devices in both hands. When we tell people they are a "Pisces" they respond by saying, Oh, yes, I see that in myself.

    Take the label away, and you won't find the trend.
    • Sergey Mirkin
    • Free-lance Media Guy
    I think mostly would agree with existence of special qualities in Gen Y, however I personally find the example of causes to be mistakenly attributed based on U.S. upbringing. Fact of the matter is, this development is global--just like it was previously mentioned by a gentleman from India--and thus these old examples about trophies are simply not appropriate. Sure, there is a whole culture of soccer moms in this country, but how that relates to India is beyond me.

    On the other hand, the Internet is a global phenomenon that clearly provides people with access to information and opportunities available to higher social groups. Thus we are raised in an environment where everyone has a chance to identify oneself with the famous Google guys or Starbucks story--none of which would have been as widely marketed back in the mid 20th century.
    • Anonymous
    Highly motivated and ends focused, yes. And willing to address the competition between work and family. Great!

    But what about community? Community support in America is concretized through volunteer time and governmental involvement: IE voting, paying taxes, being informed, etc. Is there a willingness to bring their energies here also?

    Does that mean they are self centered? If so, their managerial skills, good-bad-or indifferent, will be of little benefit in the long term to our country. Is this also a measure of a good manager? If community rises to a level of importance and thus involvement, not only will society benefit, but the individual grows in multi-faceted ways which enhances their day to day managerial skills.

    Interdependence between individuals, work-place, community, society, spirituality, health etc. is a measure of a manager with staying power and one which will make a noticeable impact and valued legacy.
    • Phil Clark
    • Clark & Associates
    Whatever you want to call the next generation, remember, they are our kids. We raised them! I really get tired of people harping on this generation. I am proud of my children and hope they keep the energy and perspective they have. We need them to keep improving life for everyone. They will not put up with some of the things we did. Great! Possibly that is why some of the CEO's are having trouble. This generation will not put up with talk and no action. I have also seen them walk out the door of a job when they feel they have been treated unfairly. They will test accountability. It is not just a word for them.

    Yep, they are my kids. I love them. I hope they find the
    cure for many diseases, end wars, and make sense of the world.

    The comment about paying their dues and having to suffer through boring jobs... No one likes that. That is not generational.
    • Bette Price, CMC
    • President, The Price Group
    Let's not forget that people are people regardless of the label of their generation and while it's easy to stereotype, each generation brings a varied set of characteristics to the workforce. Of course this group will be fine managers; many finer than those in generations before them because they are entrepreneurial, independent, innovative and--those that will eventually evolve to management roles--highly educated. I believe that because of their tendencies to want balance, be appreciated and be socially responsible, we may see more managers/leaders who truly do care about others, thus invigorate their teams and provide cultures that are profitable not because they are forced to, but because they want to.

    Research indicates that while behaviors may seem different in this generation, they actually share many of the same values of generations before them. That's what really counts; it's the values that drive the behaviors and what we are seeing is some different behaviors.

    Let's remember, my generation (boomers) have had some great leaders, but we've also spawned the most greedy bunch of them all with Enron, WorldCom, etc. So, let's stop being so judgmental about what these young people "don't" have in management/leadership skills, and instead, recognize some of the valuable traits that they do have.
    Bette Price, CMC
    Author: True Leaders
    • Gene
    • Sr Training Consultant
    I do struggle with generalizations based upon birth year, although I see sociological factors that may contribute to similar approaches in work values and styles.

    I am 52... so I guess I'm a boomer (alright, I AM a boomer). But, when I read characteristics of Millennials I think I must be the oldest one alive. I want to redefine work/life balance, I will not blindly commit to a firm, I get tired of spin...

    I think the newest generation of leaders will act upon their distaste for hype and be more honest with direct reports than their predecessors. It will be refreshing to hear managers share a problem that must be embraced and solved by everyone. John Kotter's dream of more disclosure about problems and the need for change may be realized with this group of managers.

    They will also lead us through the Conceptual Age as described by Dan Pink in "A Whole New Mind."
    • Vivek Radia
    • Negotiator, Lockheed Martin
    Some of us at Lockheed Martin have been discussing this topic internally so I find this to be a very timely conversation. Although other assumptions have noted Gen X and Y to overlap in 1980 both groups (including myself) probably grew up in similar macro environments. We began doing MBA style integrated projects involving high levels of collaboration in Junior High thanks to the foresight of our boomer generation teachers. Leadership and management has been pushed further down the educational curriculum.

    It seems more that intro level jobs are dated at many large employers as they adopt newer technologies that improve productivity. How many post college job descriptions have these ridiculous requirements for MS office knowledge (like word, excel, powerpoint), or the ability to use some database etc. Most intro level jobs that used to take a year or two to learn now take a few months, granted business savvy may not advance coterminously.

    So when we get past learning the basics of using a system and how a company or an industry does business we want to be in charge because that is exactly what the boomers have trained us to do. Just as I can't label a boomer because I wouldn't know their perspective, neither can other generations entirely comment on or label the X and Y without make gross statements that amount to stereotyping and don't focus on us as people.

    It is fantastic to be working at this time with 4 generations in the workplace, sharing lessons, perspectives, phases of life and adopting to each other's needs.
    • Kevin Brady
    • Freelance Instructional designer, various
    I find such broad generalizations hard to believe. I'd like to see some data -- drawn from a wide array of occupations, organizations and regions -- before I buy into such notions.
    • Anonymous
    Though over 55, I recall having many of these so-called 'millennial' values when I entered the work force 30-35 years ago. I remember being disappointed by 'the good ole boy network' that required literally decades of menial boring unchallenging work, 'paying my dues' before the opportunities improved. Corporate benefits, vesting, pensions, etc. were structured to form a 'golden handcuff' which after a certain period prevents one from switching companies, and induces people to RIP (retire in place). Now that corporate pensions are being gutted in favor of 401k type benefits, employees have less to lose by switching. Agreed, the internet and technology are assumed by the millennials, which increases their agility in a rapidly changing environment.
    • Fernando
    • Principal, Consultant
    I view myself in this article. I'm from 1971.

    I propose some reflection points (with some answers):

    How do you see day by day work without significant contribution to the organization and society? (Some people can spend all days, all their life, just processing day by day documentation, ... but it's the ones prepared to perform innovative functions behind leadership who give new value and perspectives to the share holders....

    How do you see a career life without expectations? Some people work with their own expectations and fight to see the accomplishment. Organisations in a natural run with budget have an inside natural progression, but to move on the need for fresh projects, fresh strategies, fresh market approaches usually is the result of a minority of employers, ....

    Concluding, I think organisations are divided in two worlds, the day by day execution and the constant looking for more results, improving the current strategy, installing new strategies; and you have to recognise properly the two dimensions and people inside that.
    • Bruce Fenton
    • President, Atlantic Financial Inc.
    It would be interesting to see more about how these characteristics compare globally. The profile of the Millennial is probably also impacted by the US's place in the world. Some nations seem to have citizens in this age group who are notably more serious and hard working than in the US while with others the reverse is true.
    • Anonymous
    Very interesting discussion, but everyone wants to stick within the box that was framed by a Harvard professor. What I want to know is, can this or any other generation fix our government, or will you just make things worse. It seems we only get to hear from managerial types or wanta-bes in or with large corporate ambitions. Me, I want to know if any generation can fix my car! Let's talk about lots of occupations besides management, starting with trades and blue collar occupations. Management is fine, but lots of us don't see management as being involved in making our lives better; only involved in trying to convince us to run after gadgets or products that cost too much, don't work all the time, and become obsolete in 6 months. I think anyone could be a manager, given the right experience; what really takes work is being a leader.
    • Amy Lynch
    • HR Consultant, Bottom Line Conversations
    It's refreshing to hear from Yers, Xers and Boomers in the same forum. Two comments.

    When I talk with recruiters for international firms, they say a lot about how similar Gen Y is around the world. Millennials grew up online together without geographic boundaries. They share an international community that is amazing to older generations, as well as a virtual culture that shapes their perspective on the meaning of work and what it takes to manage people. They will be terrific managers because they are committed to work/life balance, and at the same time they understand the bottom line.

    And this question for negotiator Vivek Radia and others. Do you take generational differences into account when you negotiate? If so, how?
    • Susan RoAne
    • Author, Speaker, The RoAne Group
    Having read, studied and observed those we have been labeled Gen Y and Millennial for my books and presentations, I am sometimes amused. I pick up a paper or book or receive a newsletter on the subject and it all reads well but something doesn't make sense.

    Are we so ALL so self-absorbed that we think we are the first decade with four generations in the workplace? Apparently the answer is "yes" and that would be wrong. Much like my reaction to the psychological testing that divides us into different categories, ascribes to each category certain characteristics and labels people, I am concerned. When I taught public school, I balked at the labels other teachers had ascribed to students. Why should I think James and Joan were trouble some just because their fifth grade teacher thought so?

    With these labels come generalizations and stereotypes that impact expectations and then the old saw about 'self-fulfilling prophecy" kicks in.

    We are individually different although there may be certain characteristics we have in common with our peers. In the diverse work place we need to be aware of peoples' workstyles, communication styles and values; and behave and respond accordingly. But the bottom line is always about respect. When we have that for others, we can learn from them, share with them, mentor them and be managed by them.

    Gen Y and the Millennials will manage to manage just as those who went before them. I can't help think that those who led and managed the boomers had similar sinking feelings and the Millennials will think the same of their "young ones" in the workplace. To quote Old Blue Eyes, "that's life."
    • Anonymous
    I do observe the characteristics of a millennial in me (I am one) but I don't think that these are restricted to a set of people bound in a time frame.

    The political and economic changes in the world might have made it easy for the millennials to voice their opinions and make life choices that may seem radical to other generations, however, I think any individual,irrespective of his/her generation, would like to make choices which reflect absolute control on his/her life - he/she just need a conducive environment to do so. The millennials got the life and environment that were the impetus to their becoming more confident individuals - but isn't that true of any successive generation?

    Owing to their creativity and their need to find more fulfilling lives, I think millennials will make better managers than their more conservative predecessors. The world is changing at a staggering pace and successive generations are only going to be more and more demanding of their employers with respect to gaining knowledge, finding fulfillment, and balancing their personal lives with their jobs as opposed to just drawing a paycheck. Since the millennials already feel the need to do the same, they will be clued in better to the expectations of the people they manage.
    • David Lenchus
    • Entreprenuer
    Millennials in the corporate world may look a lot like our professional sports rosters.

    They may make some great teams. Many may shuffle around from team to team - or company to company - over time adding value but limited loyalty.

    This will translate to exciting offerings for the consumers but at-times fair-weather consumer loyalty.
    • Anonymous
    Why on earth would we be looking at this group as managers? Should we not be looking at developing alternative, collaborative systems that flourish with and through this style of life? AND generate the impact in the world that improves quality of life!

    What is needed are evolutionary systems that are liberating and can embrace this principle of personal growth and meaning as well as contribute to societal benefit.
    • Mary Kitson
    • Managing Consultant, Federal Management Partners
    We have a handful of Gen Y managers in the small company I work for. Given some management training and some mentoring and trial and error I think they will perform just fine in the end. Just like many Gex X and Boomer managers, the Gen Y managers want to have a positive impact on the employees they are accountable for.
    • Anonymous
    Why is it when someone has high goals and can, in many cases, see the handwriting on the wall that we label those individuals as "high maintenance"? I would rather be like the Millennials and keep growing instead of reaching a time when all one can say about his or her work life is that they wish they had moved to another job that was more exciting and challenging. By the way, I am a "baby boomer" and have found many of the same traits that have been listed for Millennials resident in some baby boomers.
    • Dr. Michael M. Norman
    • President, Workplace Skills, LLC
    Every generation in America seems to look at its successor as beneath their own. They tend to be mass ego-focused, detached from members of the next group, and are often just inward looking at what they think they have accomplished as a group. I am a member of the "boomers", but see many opportunities for the next generations to contribute to making the world a far better place than we have made it as we leave it in their care. Above all we have given them countless examples in how to screw up things quite well in just a few years.

    As managers they will meet the challenges if they take the time to learn from our mistakes and their own. I know they are motivated, but are they willing to use patience to progress? Some are, of course, and some are not so patient; but then so were we at that age, I am happy to report. These and future generations will have tremendous skills to place before them to solve countless problems; but they will need to apply far more skills than we have amassed to date and that is their first challenge: to not be satisfied with learning just one skill and think it will be enough for a lifetime of work.
    • Anonymous
    Maybe millennials look at the world and see it as unsustainable, I was born in the 70s and I know I do. Clearly what's required is a different way of doing things than the previous generations because, from all the data that's been gathered, it doesn't look like the boomer generation left us with a world or a quality of life that anyone wants. I think Will Marre of the American Dream Project has the right vision and bridges the gap between boomers and the next few generations. Millennials will manage just fine. We just need to clear the decks and do things a little differently than the excessive boomer generation.
    • Technator
    Although this might seem to be more like stereotyping but there are some shades of truth in it. Here in India, I have seen the earlier generations being less aggressive about their work and having more long lasting relationships at both work and in personal life than the so-called millennials.
    • Nick Choukair
    • CEO,
    All what has been said above is true. Each generation has it own economical, social and political effluences. The drills of management and Dr. Darker teaching can only be applied differently according to the situation, while balancing living.
    • Diomande Yantoulaye
    This generation really understands technology as an enabler and a keystone for operational success. A breakthrough in this area enhances their self confidence combined with feelings for a need of global/total connectivity as well as balanced life.

    Their managerial style may be tailored on that, privileging team work where success is shared as well as failure with
    regard to the degree of real involvement of the individual in the team. Partnership and collaboration
    are certainly the keyword rather than "wild" competition.

    As managers, millennials strongly diffuse responsibility/accountability at individual levels in their
    organizations, thus making it easier to get everyone on the team to deliver the best he can. Their "Can do" attitude of this in front of challenges has to be interpreted as openness to new opportunities!

    Organizations have entered an era of permanent change and adaptation sustained by economic instability; millennials have made up their path in the rank; the timing is right for them to lead and manage; they do not stick endlessly to concepts and their willingness to continuously acquire knowledge makes them capable people for shaping organizations in turbulent time.

    This has a great deal to do with their ability to focus on solutions rather than on the problem itself.
    • Mike Flanagan C.P.M.
    • Purch Manager
    What I see in the "Millennials" is a value system that is different from us "older" people. One writer said he uses e-mail and not the phone; could it be that he does not know how to deal with one on one interaction. Yes, they are good with technology, but in many cases lack social graces. They appear aggressive, because they have not been taught how to have human interaction. They pay attention to global events, and lose track of what their neighbor needs.

    Courtesy and the ability to think locally about your neighbor, coworker, your town, has gone by the way side. Watch how customer service has degenerated when dealing with the younger generation. Even in business, the HR department used to send out letters that they received your resume. Now, you are lucky to get a automated response. So much for human interaction.

    But they will survive because everyone will be on the same page, and the new disinterested treatment of our fellow man will be the norm, and not the exception.
    • Fred Olande
    • Assistant General Manager -HR, Diamond Trust Bank Kenya
    We are all living in a globalized world in which the only thing that is constant is change. This environment is characterized by opportunities and risks given the volatility in which businesses operate. In this environment, time and speed are of the essence in major business transactions and in decision making processes. Coupled with this is the rapid change in information, communication and technology (ICT) that has been revolutionalized by the Internet. Unlike their baby boomers, this is the environment in which the millennials operate.

    It is little wonder that in a corporate world, most millennials tend to exhibit commonality across cultures. At the workplace, they are both hated and admired because they are relatively young, well educated and self centered. They are suave, aggressive, innovative and creative and when harnessed well, they can be productive, since they readily adapt across cultures and are therefore highly mobile. They work well in teams of peers and have excellent networks and tend to be impatient with people who slow them down since they are in a hurry to demonstrate what they are capable of achieving if given the opportunity. They are happy to work with unfettered freedom and feel structured hierarchies are unnecessary bureaucracies and therefore prefer flat structures.

    The millennials have no staying power as their shelf life is rather short. They have no long term commitment or loyalty to organizations and unless they are fast tracked, overtime, they slow down and want out especially when they feel misunderstood or unappreciated.

    However, as they hit forty-something, they begin to appreciate their older, time-tested managers who like their fathers before them, acknowledge that life is just a circle and we all transit from one level to another; youth, middle life, and before we know it, we take the downward plunge and like the phoenix, a new generation of managers emerge and thus ... life goes on.
    • Eric Schmidt
    The "older" vs. "younger" theme is interesting from several perspectives.

    Isn't the next generation always "...hated and admired because they are relatively young, well educated and self centered...suave, aggressive, innovative and creative and when harnessed well...productive"? (thanks, Fred for the good quote.) Is this part of the discussion really new?

    I would ask the same of the "adapt or get out of the way" communication. Isn't that theme inherent in change as well? Perhaps it isn't the fact that change will occur, but the pace of change and it's direction that creates tensions.

    As a former "change animal", I appreciate the fact that my management style has had to adapt and change, to become more collaborative to incorporate professionals with all types of strengths, skills, experiences and weaknesses. We're still learning what form some of these organizational behaviors will exhibit, but it's crucial to be openminded and to look for new ways to provide direction and be able to align people to their roles.

    Part of the answer may be a return to core values. Is profit the key motivator? Is it recognition? Or is it the ability to demonstrate success, yet balance our corporate achievements with social responsibility?

    We have to be careful not to create a system of "haves" and "have nots" based on work style. Collaboration is good, but if there are barriers between managers where one moves from open behaviors those those that are highly directed (even dictatorial), then the tidal forces will be let loose. Respect is due from all parties.

    I believe that challenge and opportunity are marvelously balanced!
    • Ananda Chakravarty
    • Sr Mgr
    Factually, the millenial generation as each generation prior is composed of groups of people with a diverse background and across a wide spectrum in terms of any measurement that is applied to the randomly defined category.

    The primary differences between generations is the history they experienced compared to other generations.

    The gen-Y-ers have experienced the following - using the example of a millenial born in 1977 -

    1982 - Kindergarten/1st grade (in the US) - AT&T divests, Commodore 64 released, Dow break 1065
    1986 - 3rd Grade, learning multiplication tables - Challenger Space Shuttle disintegrates, Iran-Contra
    1990 - 7th Grade, learning basic sciences - Iraq invades Kuwait, Hubble Telescope launched, Berners-Lee proposes WWW, Soviet Union breaks up following Dec.
    1995 - Graduation, heading off to college - Dow breaks 4000, Microsoft launches Windows 95, Yahoo! founded
    1999 - Graduating college, entering workforce - Euro introduced, Y2K scare, Dow breaks 11,000, Napster founder, Apple iBook
    2002 - Survivors of the dot com bust seek new opptys - Post 9/11, Dept of Homeland Security formed, Enron indicted, US invades Afghanistan
    2005 - Experienced professional or move to mgt - Hurricane Katrina, 1st cellphone virus, virtual world crime, DARPA Grand Challenge autonomous cars

    Shift this model 10-20 years and you have the range of millenials experience base at a high level - for the primary difference between generations is the historical impacts - particularly on their childhood.

    IMHO (In my honest opinion - for the Baby Boomers) there is no empirical evidence that shows they would be significantly different from other generations or should even be categorized randomly as mentioned earlier in this thread by Alice Richmond.

    The only commonalities not shared with other generations would include the historical effects that impacted them most - e.g. technological advances, witnessing the young entrepreneurship of the late 90s, exponential rise of the stock market, and the political strifes of the decades.

    Would this really impact their managerial abilities? Would it even matter given that those they will be managing down the road would most likely be of a younger age and will be familiarized with the technological marvels of the future?
    • Ulysses U. Pardey, MBA
    • Managing Director, Am-Tech, S.A., Panama, Rep. of Panama
    But what kind of managers will they make? Or will they express the same concerns as those for whom they currently work?

    I am sure that many of us will be millennials for ever.
    We have been through this before : Very young, with talent, knowledge, expectations, full of energy and everything else and yet with a lot to learn from Life Business School. This is what being young and well educated is all about in a company with a wide range of generations.

    Allow me to share with you the following; it might be useful to lots of you:

    Learn how to be:

    Patient as you are starting almost from scratch in the Life Business School. Wait for your "in due time" opportunity and if necessary earn it, do not take it for granted.

    Thankful to God whenever your boss wants to make you a better manager than he/she is.

    Helpful and respectful with others. It is useful to develop a network.

    A "great someone" in order to make the most of yourself and a "great something" (professional) in order to make the most of it.

    A good listener as sometimes, for not saying rather often, in a professional real life setting one knows "it" by experience and not by being smart.

    I believe that managers who become Great Managers are those who can, among other things, deal with all this working youth full of energy which lacks the perspective through time simply because they're young. These managers are able to favor the profit growth of the company and the professional careers involved.

    The millennials, in general terms, will have to manage in order to favor the profit growth of the company with its corresponding consequences and problem solving, no matter how local or global the business is.

    However, I believe that the way the millennials will manage is substantially influenced today by the way actual managers treat them as people and as professionals. I am sure that the better they are treated, the more valuable their contributions to society will be.

    Let's keep in mind that we learn what we do not know; therefore, the company and managers should allow room to-manage-learning-from-mistakes as well, as a key success factor of a career development program. We all will be better off.

    Of course many millennials will be managers and some of them will be great managers.
    • Darcy Kelley
    • Senior Strategist, Digital, Capital C
    Hi, Prof. Heskett. Your discussion/characterization, so far, is quite encyclopedic. I've managed many so-called millennials. I think it's entirely fair to say when the vast majority come into billion-dollar, pan global corporations, they view they can change the organization. That are confident they know the best ways to increase revenue, profitability, stock price, customer loyalty and brand equity -- all within the first month on the job.

    I've found the millennials have a hard time multi-tasting. As a senior manager & strategist, I'm accustomed to managing several large projects/initiatives simultaneously. Some creep along as a snail's pace (for example, a new partnership could take 3 years from first meeting to formal agreement). I find the millennials can't handle long completion cycles. If a project cycle (in whole, or in part) takes more than a few weeks, they are totally lost, and feel as though all other interdependencies aren't moving fast enough (except them, of course, my word!). I'm tempted to say that many millennials have ADD, but its not that -- they expect fast outcomes without fully comprehending the entire framework of what they're working toward.

    To keep millennials, who are direct reports, engaged, I assign one or two (but no more) tangible (not conceptual) projects or tasks that are sequential, and have pretty linear critical paths, from objective to end deliverable. And projects/tasks that can be delivered in a matter of weeks, not months. I monitor progress every few days (or every day, if needed) -- once-weekly check-ins aren't sufficient. When millennials hit road-blacks (i.e. can?t get past step 3 in, say, a 10-step process), they tend not to "manage up" particularly well. "I've tried for the last few days to get this report to run, but it still won't" is something I heard recently from a direct report. I had advised spending half a day in discovery; instead, the individual -- too self directed and overly confident (or scared) -- never made an attempt to check-in, or seek further counsel to arrive at a successful outcome.

    Additionally, I find they don't tend to test multiple hypotheses simultaneously, to determine whether an unintended, or unexpected outcome, may surface. Or whether incremental outputs/outcomes are causal, or merely coincidental (cause-effect is not always investigated).

    If the approach of fewer, more focused projects still isn't effective at focusing their attention and energies, I invite the millennial (if a direct report) to tag along to an executive meeting I'm leading or attending. I'll introduce the individual as present to take meeting minutes (in fact, that is the task -- to observe passively, at first). Almost every time, after a serious multi-stakeholder meeting, the ambitious junior will take a step back, and concede that there's a lot they still need to learn. That there were many aspects where he or she was knowledge deficient, and inexperienced. I won't set the millennial up to fail, but I will show them, by example, what is required of a senior manager in a typical meeting or day.

    When I was quite precocious in my undergraduate, a very bright, gifted professor (Maqbool Aziz, god rest his soul) clipped me behind the ears one time: "before you say 'I think,' make sure you can say, 'I understand.'"

    This is the same advice I dole out to equally precocious, recently-hired millennials. And I find it has the same "normalizing" effect on them as it had on me!
    • Anonymous
    Say goodbye to Alfred Sloan and Lee Iacocca. Move over Peter Drucker and Jack Welch.

    While these titans of business represented the best wisdom of their time, the leadership style of the future may see them as mere memories of a lesser past. In their place, the world of tomorrow seems destined to embrace a new movement in corporate and political management: Millennial Leadership.

    Millennials, loosely defined, are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. Also known as "Generation Y" or "The Internet Generation," they have grown up in a rapidly changing world, experiencing everything from the stock market boom to the Enron debacle to the birth of the iPod. In the midst of a technology renaissance and the shadow of 9/11, they stand poised to inherit a world in dire need of a fresh style of leadership.

    Enter Millennial Leadership.

    In a recent speech, McKinsey Managing Director Ian Davis identified the five biggest issues on CEOs' minds: technology, the people impact of globalization, the challenge of building organizational capacity, the role of business in society, and how to balance growth with risk. All of these obstacles point to one central culprit troubling leaders today: increasing complexity.

    Ask any executive if their job is more or less complex than the one their predecessor filled, and you're almost guaranteed to get an exasperated chuckle. The key focus of Millennial Leaders, then, is finding a way to cope with--and if possible, take advantage of--this complexity.

    Take climate change, for instance. For years, corporate America has seen global warming crusaders and carbon regulations as a threat. In 2005, Jeffrey Immelt embraced this paradigm shift and proudly trumpeted "ecomagination," General Electric's new environmentally-friendly initiative. Today, GE is well on its way to double investments in R&D, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and most impressive, increase revenues with cleaner technology.

    Jeffrey Immelt is only one of a growing group of role models for Millennial Leaders. Immelt joins the company of visionaries like Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines, and Bill George of Medtronic. What do these superstars have in common?

    Perhaps the best conclusion comes from a recent article on the dynamic CEO of eBay, "Meg Whitman leads by not leading, bosses by not bossing, and manages by not managing."

    In other words, Millennial Leadership is about empowering people to reach a shared vision. Today's executives are realizing that the increasing complexity they face makes it impossible for them to control all aspects of an organization, let alone see all problems and threats like climate change and disruptive technologies. Instead, they must build a continually adapting organization with leaders at all levels.

    In some ways, Millennial Leaders are saying that Henry Ford and Sam Walton were right all along. Develop a vision that your employees feel in their heart, give them a sense of ownership and pride in the organization, help them become better leaders than you, and watch as they exceed your wildest expectations.

    When Immelt and his colleagues pass the torch to the next generation, it will be a momentous step forward in the history of leadership, as the millennials take the reins. Trust me, I'm one of them.
    • Lauren Adovasio
    • Business Manager, Fasbender & Associates
    As a millennial who definitely ascribes to the characteristics listed above, it disheartens me somewhat, as I feel the "boomers" have the same characteristics, as they are the ones that instilled this work ethic in us. When you speak about how we are "focused on our own personal development", isn't that just our mothers and fathers telling us "don't let a company take you for granted?" They just have twenty more years experience in the workforce, and some life lessons to add. In my observation, whereas with us to solve a problem, we only think of a couple of ways, a "boomer" is more likely to have had the problem ten times, dealt with it ten different ways and ended up with ten different end results. Their experience helps them look through an entire issue, as opposed to the problem at hand.

    To have great leaders, you need great mentors. I believe there was a working paper on this exact subject in the last year from HBS. If I'm ever considered a competent leader/manager, it's because I had excellent mentors. Sometimes the company I'd be working for would hand me one, sometimes I'd have to seek it out. What the millennial(s) really need is lessons on lengthening our attention spans, something technology has not helped one iota. Again, I believe this comes with experience. That or reading something longer than a text message.

    In the preference to email, that is the way we like to interact with other millennial(s), as we're comfortable in the global environment. I still see us using the phone or meeting in person with others outside this age group. This is part of us doing what it takes to get the job done. Being part of a global environment, we seem to have less racial and gender bias than previous generations. This is pivotal going into a time where America will no longer be the largest country, GDP wise. We'll work with whomever, again, to get the job done. I believe that millennial(s) are extremely entrepreneurial, and that it comes from being latch-key kids. We've been taking care of ourselves since we were little, why wouldn't we think we can do everything on our own at work? We have no idea what a work/life balance is, let's face it, work/life went out with the advancement of the cell phone. I'll always be balancing my work around my life. Work's just going to come wherever and whenever, regardless of what else is going on in our life. Our management style will reflect this most definitely.

    I'd like to respond as well to CJ Cullinane (#6) that he/she doesn't see people gravitating toward science and engineering anymore. As a female math/stats grad, there were always 20 men for every 3 women in my classes. I spoke to my professor a few months ago, and she spoke glowingly of the 54 people who had signed up for the major. With the influx of more women going to school (87 of the 206 accepted at Cal Poly this year were women), I'd be really interested to see if that holds true.
    • Ann Brown
    • President, LearningAdvance
    I (techically a baby boomer) work with many of this generation who are teaching me much about uncomplicating issues, cutting through the waffle and getting to the basics - the things they realy care about. I don't know if they will lose that clarity as they age - I hope not.

    As Muder Chiba (#3) put it most simply, "They will be managers of their times and not of the past."

    Ann Brown
    • Colin Morgan
    • Reuters - Sydney
    Wow, reading through this I was really stunned at how close it came to roughly defining my perception of myself. It is quite funny because we as humans like to think of ourselves as individuals but with a bit of hindsight we really realise how little individuality we really have.

    After all the way we live, what we do what we eat and most of everything is related to environmental influences which are dictated by the larger groups of society. Categorizing people in age groups is probably a good sampling method as most people from an era will have been subject to the same global influences of society.

    Loyalty is an interesting point. Loyalty is a process involving two parties. I will bend over backwards for a company who will reciprocate the effort and often we like to think that companies will make extra efforts to retain valuable employees. The culprit for the demise of loyalty I think is change. Today's corporations need to adapt to a fast moving consumer market which is very volatile and to be successful they need to undergo constant transformation to be able to keep up the pace.

    That change applies to everything including the workforce. More and more, employees have become a marketable commodity and have become expendable when necessary. Individuals have therefore needed to adapt to that concept and therefore we have gone out to find and maintain the marketable skills which themselves are constantly changing. As a result you end up with a "learn and go" workforce constantly on the move to keep up. Essentially it's a bit of a vicious circle.

    I think if we compare generations the Millennials are somewhat on the hinge. Our parents still worked in a very loyal environment where you worked for one company for a lifetime. We were brought up with those values from our parents but as the pace of change accelerated we learnt to embrace it. We as well got to see the evolution of technology and we got to be proficient at it but yet appreciate the fact that it hasn't always been there.
    Today's generation grow up knowing that technology is there for them and think it always has been. Change is a fact of life which they just know and have never known any different so they have a different perception of it.

    I think that our parents' generation had their challenges but when the wave came it was to fast and too hard and it didn't go down too well. We hit the ground running; we learnt how to surf, manage the waves and stay afloat. Today's generation are born with surf boards and surfing is second nature. That doesn't mean there are no other challenges but the reference point isn't the same.

    In terms of our managing skills I think when we do enter that playing field we will have very high expectations of other and ourselves. We will embrace change quite well so I think we will stay in tune with the newer generations a lot longer therefore possibly facilitating dialogue and progression. We may very well be a little less forgiving as we have put ourselves through the steps and expect others to have done the same or better.

    Our need for instant gratification may lead us to organise workflows to achieve that not only for us but for everyone.
    With change being accepted or second nature to more and more people I think there will be a reduction in expendability hence we may be faced with re-introducing loyalty concepts and being a lot more open to catering for peoples development and progression needs.
    • David Mullings
    • Managing Partner,
    I was born in Jamaica in 1981 and identify perfectly with what you outlined as common characteristics of my generation.

    I think the generations before us tend to overlook one issue that is of great concern to us:

    Financial Security.

    My generation has a great understanding of the enormous wealth our hard work creates - and we want a piece of that action. Gone are the days when we work hard like our parents, hoping to live off a little savings and a pension.

    We want to secure our future - and the best way to do that is to share in the wealth that is being created. Hence the popularity of "salary and stock". Companies do not tend to look out for their employees' long-term interests.

    This explains why so many young people are trying to start their own companies - with some successes I might add (Youtube, Facebook, etc.)

    To answer what kind of managers we will be or what kind of companies we will run, just read the following book:

    Small Giants.

    Yes, we will in fact treat out employees the way we expect to be treated.
    • Linda Hardenbergh
    • Advisor, College of Public and Community Service
    Hello All: As an academic advisor, I am currently studying the different generations. I believe the nontraditonal and traditional student is a thing of the the past. I would appreciate any comments or views from this remarkable generation as it would be very beneficial to the profession of advising.
    • April-Dawn
    • Business Unit Director
    For the first time we could have 5 generations in the workforce. We have heightened social, cultural, global, (you get the idea) awareness. We expect everything faster.

    The question of millennials' success as managers is interesting. It supposes they have a choice.

    Unless we believe the boomers, traditionalist and Gen Y generations will work for less than highly credible and appreciative managers, the millennials will have to be successful. Otherwise, they will be replaced by their global competition or boomers who decide early retirement wasn't what they wanted after all.

    It will give new meaning to on the job learning if the millennials are not successful because they will spend more and more time with people issues rather than business management.

    All that being said, companies cannot function without worker bees. Those that don't enter management by choice and feel valued by their organization to achieve in their communities could be the best thing for productivity we have yet to witness.
    • Kapil Kumar Sopory
    • Company Secretary, SMEC (India) Private Limited
    Millennials have generally belonged to an age of plenty with ample choices to live life without unnecessary compulsions forced by family or others. They are not emotional to follow the footsteps of their parents and do not mind choosing vocations which might be considered taboo in their families. They can go to extremes and shun the mundane.

    Progress to them means money and comforts; they won't like to have a monotonous life which lacks excitement. At work, they are focused and result oriented. Innovation is their forte. However, they are not loyal towards the organisation or the boss and consider these to be stepping stones for going up the hierarchy or to another organisation with better money and standards. Job satisfaction is a preferred
    reason to stay on and improvement of intellectual capital is given due importance.

    Millennials need to be groomed very patiently by understanding their psyche particularly by the old timers who retain a serious posture avoiding fun and frolic. Once this is done, the millennials become good managers and administrators.
    • Hemant Rachh
    • MBA student, NMIMS, Mumbai
    Yes, in my opinion Millennials:

    1. Will be sensitive - Because Millennials have grown up with Emotional Intelligence, learning it from universities, social interaction and the environment at large.

    2. Will make transnationals - Because Millennials have seen pros and cons of globalization. This will make mobility inevitable.

    3. Will create conducive work environments - Because Millennials are adaptive in nature. They will change internal systems when they will come to positions to do so.

    And this is not specific to Millennials; all generations after Millennials will have these qualities imbibed in them. Therefore, in future there will not be the issues that we are discussing today, but later generations will bring their own issues which might seem irrelevant today or are unforeseeable today in the corporate world.
    • Anonymous
    It's ridiculous to suggest that management will skip an entire generation. Better or worse managers, perhaps, but that there will not be any managers in a decade's worth of age range is just illogical.
    • Reginald Ramsey, MBA
    I understand the need to generalize a group of people. However, I believe that each individual is unique and brings various life experiences to the workplace. In other words, if one was raised in a loving and nurturing household, that individual is more likely to be a loving, easygoing, team focused individual. Likewise, an individual that was raised by a single parent that has a substance abuse problems would be totally different in the workplace.

    Therefore, from my perspective, the terms "millennials, Gen Xers, Gen Yers, Baby Boomers, etc." are just terms used for labeling and/or sterotyping. However, these terms have very little relevance in the workplace of today or tomorrow. People are people. Each individual is unique and a product of their environment.

    Respectfully submitted,
    • E. Canty Bothuel
    • DMin Student & Worship Staff, First Baptist Church, Vienna, VA
    I like the "M-O" of the Gen Yers! They tend to put first-things-first--at least to them, they get things done, and they enjoy life. My generation worked too hard, left out their families, sacrificed themselves, and died too soon! I believe that when we subscribe to recognizing the employee as a whole person--that is, one with aspirations and dreams that may be outside of the work, and love for self and family--we will realize a better product and, ultimately, a better world.
    • Anonymous
    I am a boomer with many millennials as direct reports. They will be good managers and I expect they will be generally better than I or my peers have been. The concern I have is whether there will be the numbers needed to fill the vacancies left by me and other boomers. I am experiencing vacancies now that were filled by millennials who no longer had a "passion" for management. This even though they were key architects of the current corporate culture.
    • sanjay
    • Marine logistics manager, ONGC
    It depends upon the environment. The individual's basic ethics come from parents: his attitude, gratitude, and posture, which make a man a success. How much he is confident himself.
    • August Ray
    • Managing Director - Experiential Marketing, Fullhouse
    Millennials, more than the prior generation, want to care about what they do. They will work hard and long, provided they care. So, the key is to find ways to make them care--social and flexible environments, direct rewards for contributions, caring managers who treat them as equals and are interested in them as human beings, and the opportunity for growth and new experiences.

    What's funny is that these things have always been key to fostering hard-working and committed employees. It just often seems as if large organizations get so wrapped up in processes, rules, profit, and the illusion of uniformity and equity that treating people like people gets lost.

    Because I work in Interactive Marketing, I get exposed to a lot of millennials. I really enjoy working with people in that generation, and I think the passion they bring to their work lives, personal lives, and relationships is positive in the world and in the workplace.

    It may be stereotypical and too great a generalization to say, but millennials seem to have a strong sense of their priorities and principles than do boomers, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that!
    • Phil Dourado
    • Author,
    "Generation Y" who are seen as hard work by the people who manage them because they prize 'know why' over 'know how' - If they don't buy into the 'why' of what you are doing you won't get their whole-hearted co-operation.

    My thoughts are that the Gen Y, with their lack of respect for authority and constant questioning and tinkering and need for reasons, are shaping up to be a far better crop of leaders than the current lot if this example (below)is anything to go by. It impressed me, anyway...

    I just came back from a family vacation in Portugal. I always enjoy these, as it allows me to reconnect with my older son and his wife while lounging around the pool reading and chatting, and I always learn something from them. They are 'Millennials', I guess, though I'm never sure about the wisdom of classifying a whole generation with particular traits: it seems based on the same principle as astrology.

    Anyway, here's what I learnt from Chantel, my daughter-in-law, this time around:

    She manages the children's department in a book store. The previous department head had been in post for years and left suddenly. Chantel was promoted into the position. No-one else knew how the department was run. It just ran well, with the department head seen as the fount of all knowledge and the 'go to' person to deal with any problems, as is often the case with a long-standing efficient department manager who has been in place for years.

    Since no-one expected the department head to leave, there had been no succession planning. So, where do you go when the 'go to' person has gone? "I found this hidden world of paperwork and processes that the previous boss had kept away from me, for all the right reasons. This was the secret formula that kept the department running well and I was terrified of tinkering with it," said Chantel.

    Chantel took a deep breath and spent some time figuring out how it all worked. Then she spotted an improvement she wanted to make, made it, and held her breath. Had she messed with the magic formula? Would it all come crashing down around her ears? Suddenly people came out of the woodwork saying how great the change was and why hadn't they done it before. Emboldened by this, she made some more changes, each of which was welcomed. Nobody had imagined doing things differently before because, well, it had all worked fine before.

    A few months on and Chantel has been offered another promotion, managing the children's department at another store. She is grooming her successor in the old job, introducing her to the paperwork and the processes that the department head has to manage, because she doesn't want her successor left in the dark and having to figure it out herself, as she had to.

    And this is the bit that impressed me: "I said to her, when I come back in a few months to visit, don't let me find this all the same as I left it. Make changes! Make it better! I don't want to find when I come back that you are doing the same things I was. I want you doing it better than I did!"

    I love that message: "Here's what you're inheriting and your job is to change it!" "Change this!" is such a powerful green light to flash at leaders coming into new positions. As ever, that means leaders at all levels, not just the official leader in the hierarchy.

    It contrasts powerfully with the old notion of leaders as guardians of the way things have been done and as champions of their own way of doing things, and scared of allowing alternative approaches in case they turn out to be better than their own.

    If that's typical of Millennial generation leadership, then I think we are in safe hands.
    • Anonymous
    Generational business characteristics are not the result of the year of birth but the result of observational learning of the children growing up under the pressures forced on the prior generation. Corporations repeatedly proved that loyalty was not only not valued but detrimental as millions of children of the boomers watched their hard working partents and grandparents lose their jobs, pensions, heath insurance, and retirement security. That drives a change in attitude that demands a lot more up front and leaves as little as possible to the whim of the corporation or employer. Can anyone blame them for that?

    'Millennials' will do for business what Boomers did for music and mores of their generation. The shift in skills required to manage successfully will also push more women through the glass ceiling. The combination of those events can create a platform for even more meaningful change in the following generation. I expect to see a decreasing emphasis on power and control as a meaure of self-worth. The term "team work" will become just work, like riding. One doesn't say horseback riding; it's implied.

    And if my assessment of the 'Millennials' is correct, we should begin to see ethics as a business absolute more often than not. The increased emphasis by this generation on social responsibilty, balance, and human progess could drive some very significant changes by them and their offspring.
    • Horacio Coutio
    • College Student, ITESM CSF
    Being a fellow millennial myself, I can't think of anything that describes my generation better, or at least my way of thinking. Recently I started working at a multinational company and I couldn't work there for more than 10 days once I realized my career wouldn't grow as I expected and the work environment wasn't a social one.

    I believe our generation will represent a challenge for current managers since they will indeed need to address the issues described in the article. I can't think of myself without being proactive and accepting great challenges. I can't think of myself not delivering a high quality output at the last minute.
    • Anonymous
    I would learn more about management.
    It's a great article.
    • Karen Dempster
    • Director, KD&A Creating Change
    I also have Prof. Heskett's "warped"(?) view of these future managers. I am 48, and worked with both disadvantaged youth and super-supported go-getters. So I will give my own heartfelt, direct answers to the queries raised.

    Will they be as sensitive to the needs of those in their employ as they want their managers to be with them? IMO, Yes. There is a congruence I observe in those that actually aspire towards management that sees their own values as part of the goal, meaning anything less would indicate failure - an outcome not encompassable...

    Will they open up their organizations more widely to global opportunities? Yes again - due to no small part of the increased valuing of innovation and creativity, with risk tolerance gradually being linked to structure and process (um, often through the school of hard knocks, but there you have the best tutor!)

    Will they create work environments in which jobs fit into personal life styles rather than vice-versa? Absolutely. With a holistic understanding of, and trust in, the management tools of broad technological linkage. (Outstripping those of us who for some time thought "Skype" was a sort of sea-bird or virus carrying conspiracy...)

    Will they encourage mobility in their employees? Gosh yes! The globe has shrunk so much now that any entrepreneurial organisation expects overseas development opportunities to occur for staff, lest they be left behind in their "savvy". Or will they express the same concerns as those for whom they currently work? Not the same perhaps, but eventually they will hear some truth in the cautions given. But I bet they roll with the punches!
    • Junaid Folami Khatib
    • Copywriter, FK:G2 Nigeria
    It is enviable to be born in the 80s. Those of us that came a little earlier wish we had delayed a while. What can you give for the boom - boom - boom! And for me, the emergence of hip hop. Theis is regrettably not universal.

    The level of dexterity displayed by my millennial friends and colleagues is amazing. They have an upstart attitude to work, and that is great both for the group and the persons.

    I have however noticed that morality and general misplacement of priorities by leadership and some other prejudice often edge creativity to the back burner.
    • Scott
    • Engineer
    The current workplace, the social setting, and the economic and political status all have me very concerned. I was born in '79 and this article is insightful, but it should emphasize the gap between the parents and children in the millennials, whereas that gap has disappeared in people born in the 80's and on.

    I joined the engineering profession as a person who needs to create, build, design. I have little respect for a PhD until they say something insightful, yet I am an academic with a Master's degree. I see problems in the world I want to fix: transportation, urban planning, energy use. I have good ideas and I am not afraid to admit that my employers think very highly of me.

    But the reality is not there. Unfortunately the corporate and government bureaucracy today has made stars out of accountants and financial 'officers', has put up procedures and red tape that stops work from getting done and maintains the status quo. Today I work for months documenting the obvious in a report that verifies the need to start a study. Engineers, designers and practitioners have become just 'a source of billable hours'. Manufacturing, construction, and design are looked down upon by a white collar world that somehow thinks that "we control the information". Like that's worth anything, or it's even remotely true.

    Is there a solution? I think the west needs a crash and a big one. Easy money and, excuse this, a [ ] lifestyle have led to complacency on a scale so large that airplanes crashing into buildings didn't wake anyone up. On 9/11 people said "everything's changed". But nothing did, except for the back of the mind thought that "the government is taking care of that business... hey the maid forgot to dust the top of the fridge."

    Yes, the millennials can manage. The question is, will we manage an inherited bureacracy where nothing gets done and everyone is concerned about feeling good, or will it be managing the start of a real social change for the good of the country, society, and the planet? Unfortunately this part is still up to our 'elders'.
    • Anonymous
    I find it entertaining that the comments from many of the Millennials are "all about me". That is my experience both working with millennials and studying them. They require a tremendous amount of validation and continuous "slap on the backs". This is a group that has been raised getting a trophy just for being on the soccer is a group that requires "trophies" as a daily part of work. Hopefully they will grow out of this self-absorbtion.
    • BPlajer
    • Sr. Director, Sacred Heart Hospital
    It sounds to me that all the traits of Gen Yers are the same traits of successful managers: driven, motivated and won't settle for second best. Just because someone has self value and stands up for themselves they shouldn't be labeled high maintenance. They should be applauded that they have strength and confidence, and companies ought to value these people as well.
    • Anonymous
    Sigh. As a boomer who started using computers in the 1960's and who rode the minicomputer wave to business success more than once, the current state of technology is just one more step along that journey of 1000 miles. Generational discord has existed forever, or don't the kids read Plato and Aristotle any more?

    As the world's social and technological mileau evolves, some portion of the population evolves with it and some portion falls behind. (At age 85 around 50% of people have Alzheimers, so they say, but that's only 50% after all.) Each generation is responsible for teaching the next the tools to cope with evolution and then has to trust that everything will all work out. We can't hold their hands forever and at some point the world belongs to them. Maybe Meerkat Manor should be required viewing. Nobody said it was easy being a manager at any time.
    • Vanitha Rangganathan
    • Malaysia
    Being a millennial myself, I find myself smothered in an environment of non-millennials with their own peculiar brand of working styles. Suffice to say, I'm often in a situation where I'm delayed not by my own lack of efficiency or shortcomings, rather by the confusing mannerisms and laidbackness of others who are more senior, age-wise. Perhaps, they owe their behaviours to a feeling of gratification that their years in the professional line and experience alone measures up to performance par excellence. They often nestle in a safe cocoon that it isn't their time to shine any more and thus, it wouldn't really matter if they occasionally slacked in terms of speed and accuracy of decision-making.

    Coming from an Asian background, we the millennials would often be defined as 'young blood' -- not meaning that we are wet behind the ears or lacking in experience, rather that our hunger to excel and motivate change in ways we find necessary cause us to be driven by an almost unrelenting attitude.

    This attitude perhaps translates into something which forms a threatening aura and propels non-millennials to believe that we are a rather perplexed lot with numerous idiosyncrasies. Far from that, we are often stifled by conventional management styles advocated by many and seek environments which welcome our open attitudes and more importantly, our personal contributions towards making meaningful differences in an organisation.

    An organisation fuelled by a millennial's mode of thinking and genre of leadership will flourish. Quite simply, it is because we rely mainly on sensical aspects of life -- by practicing genuine generosity in sharing ideas/criticisms towards creating a meaningful reality in the organisation. With our inherent curiosity, we continuously find ways to introduce freshness in employment of strategies. More importantly, given our younger age, decisions we make are often explored with a probable future in mind.

    I'd safely say that on behalf of other millennials, we are not just about 'What's in it for me'. We are more often than not wondering, 'How can I better myself and others' that our tenure in any organisation would prove itself fruitful not only for us, but for the future of the organisation as well. We are, after all, looking to make a difference.
    • Santhanam Krishnan
    • Director & Chief Course Architect, National School of Banking, India
    After all, millennials are the products of their yester-generation but pick up values dictated by the latest environment -- be it social, cultural or organizational -- which is increasingly becoming aggressive. Sensitivity from seniors is considered as legitimate entitlement, but sensitivity to juniors is considered more a matter of choice or convenience.

    Given this background, millennial employers' sensitivity to their employees is guided by circumstantial compulsions, and in a majority of such cases one finds varying degrees of ruthlessness. Increasing attrition rates in several 3G industries has its origin in that ruthlessness.

    The instinctive attitude of viewing business as a monitored activity hasn't divorced freedom of action to a doer entirely -- in many cases it will be a practical impossibility to even consider so. We will certainly find that millennials are not an exception to the honest question - Will I abdicate my baby entirely at the mercy of someone?

    Business growth knows no generational boundaries and as one would expect - bees go where honey is! After all, the primary worry of any business man is ultimately a healthy bottomline -- whether millennial or not. Hence it is unthinkable to expect them to be different on this account. After all, we haven't yet caught up the age of robotized humans!
    • Zorba Manolopoulos
    • Intel
    Interesting concept that a new generation would be so different to worry about. Were we not all ambitious in our younger years? Are we not generally bright, cheery, seemingly well-adjusted, and cooperative? In comparison to the generation that preceded you, could you have been considered "high maintenance, high risk, and often high output employees"?

    Does anyone remember doing business without a computer? More importantly, do you remember the transition when computers started to enter business?

    Wasn't it the previous generation who built this environment? I don't want to debate nature vs. nurture and who caused what, that is not my point. Rather, if it is the current and past generations who have built today's working environment, then aren't we then part of this environment? Are we not also operating in the same manner since we are in the same business environment?

    We are the ones who made the internet to increase communication,
    We are the ones who created collaboration techniques to allow groups of employees to work together.
    We are the ones who created a social environment to work in.
    We ask employees to work as teams to solve problems.
    We created tools to allow for more efficiency that allowed us to multi-task.
    We even built the technology that the "millennials" use. (I remember training them on how to use said technology.)
    We did these things to improve upon the generation before us.

    By segmenting out this new or latest generation of employees, are you basically stating that the current generation cannot operate as such. Worse yet, that we do not operate as such. We built this business environment, we grew into it and formed it to the way we want to work.

    Did we build an environment that we cannot excel in? I don't think so. I don't think that it is just the "millennials" who are different, but all workers have had to adapt to environmental change. For the questions stated at the end of the article -- it would seem that today's manager (pre-millennials) are already executing in those areas.

    So, as "millennials" enter, the business environment will continue to evolve and improve. I don't think we have much to worry about when it comes to the next generation of managers. They will continue the progression.
    • Anonymous
    I feel sorry for members of this generation that believe this hype. Organizational realities, like power, are timeless, and those who decide to flaunt authority at every turn will be killed off by so-called "slow" boomers. I'm an X-er, another generation that was scrutinized and hyped, and I've learned that paying dues and sticking with it is not boring, it's what it takes to build meaningful success.
    • Marcus Schuetz
    • Executive in Residence, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Coming from a management responsibility into a Business School and working with MBA candidates on their qualification and personality helped me a lot to understand why my new hires and especially interns are frequently unable to deliver (even I consider myself to be lucky in my picks).

    Sure, there is no justification to generalize my observations easily, more so that I am not an HR expert. However, it appears to me that the "Millennials" see Management and Leadership more as a lifestyle than a profession. Consequently they glamorously juggle jargon and hold the material attributes already at early stage. But a lack of understanding, deeper reflection and simply the skills to articulate thoughts and analyze a situation make them fail to perform and handle real problems.

    Not to talk about leadership. Who will give any serious leadership responsibility into the hands of immature personalities? And who wants to be led by them? And further down the road, which shareholder employs a CEO like that?

    But it is not fair to attach these attributes to a whole generation. As always there are outstanding talents around, just that the bell curve (if this is the right way to see it) shifted significantly to the left.

    From an educator's perspective, after decades of teaching all the "fluffy things" perhaps it is time to shift focus to acknowledge thinking and real problem solving again. And also what is considered "fluffy" is actually not, if taught and trained in the right way. Parallel to that also runs the shift in the focus of HR departments, which more and more expanse into fields of Personnel Development and "Strategic HR Management," but in the end they are more a nuisance than anything else. At least they can help entertain our so-called "High Potentials" in their so-called "Development Programs".

    The job market is already going back to giving real performers an advantage over the Lifestyle Manager -- because nobody wants to pay high packages for what turns out to be a "Mickey Mouse Manager".
    • Julia Masi
    • Board Member, Children of the City
    Millennials seemed to understand that people change over time, since so many of them had parents who went from being hippies to CEO's. This is the generation whose mothers debated about leaving them with a stranger for the first year of their life, but did it anyway. In many ways they are more resilent and secure.

    Sometimes I think they have too much self esteem because they seem to lack empathy. They are good team players in the short term, but I think the key to keeping them loyal to the company is to let them design a flexible schedule. They also have very short attention spans and have developed their creative rather than linear thinking skills. They seem to have innate marketing skills from watching hours of commercials and MTV. They will be the pioneers of a new global revolution, but it's the next generation that will turn businesses green and sustain environmental and humanitarian causes.

    I think the millennials are just too focused on getting ahead, and when they do I doubt that they will have the patience to be great managers.
    • Malvin Bernal
    • Consultancy Unlimited
    Much has been written about how Millennials will manage. This question is basically an offshoot of, not how they will distinctively manage, but rather, how vast is their difference from the way baby boomers have managed. The question has raised a certain degree of urgency given that baby boomers are scheduled to retire. And what would take their place?

    Being a millennial myself, i do believe that the distinction lies not on our differences but more so on our ability to respond to rapid changes. The corporate environment ushered in various triggers that contributed to the current state of things. It is our ability to respond and react quickly and with utmost relevance that makes the difference.

    It is not my position to put forward the idea that we're a lot better that the baby boomers. We, millennials, are products of circumstances and development brought about by modernity. Baby boomers were not treated with the same amount of stimuli to react with. Back then everything was monotonous. Unlike now, where business operates at the speed of thought.

    So how will millennials manage? They will manage using change and speed as their launching pad, which in itself raises the next question: How will the Nintendo kids manage after the millennials?
    • Appolo Goma
    • Inventory Manager, Schlumberger Nigeria
    Millennials are a bunch of go-getters that any system today cannot do without. They are the ones that challenge the status quo, and not only have the belief that things can be done better, they continiously improve organisations through their persistant drive for results.

    Agreed they are highly ambitious and demand compensations for results achieved and assurance that their careers will rise fast within organisations.

    All these are necessary to keep a system running above its peers. What organisations need to do is understand the millennials and make provisions to accommodate them within their organisation as long as their values are not in conflict with the organisation's values.

    The idea is to get the best out of the millennials while they are still working for the organisation, because some of them will leave no matter how much you try to keep them, and that is because there is no perfect organisation. The best organisation for any individual is the one in which you can achieve your aspirations at any point in time. When a disconnect develops between your aspirations and the organisational goals, people will move whether they are millennials or not.

    The problem is that most organisations have refused to move with the times.
    • Matt S.
    • Financial Analyst, Holliday Fenoglio Fowler
    My apologies if this comment is repeated at some point above because with so many posts to read, time became an issue.

    The discussion has brought out many interesting and fair points, however, I would like to write about prime reason for one of the characteristics noticed by Professor Heskett. The excerpt I refer to is as follows:

    "They want an accelerated path to success, often exaggerate the impact of their own contributions, are not willing "to pay the price," and have little fear of authority. As a result, they are often not a good bet for long-term employment, because they are quite willing to seek other employment (or no employment) rather than remain in a job in which they are not growing."

    Now, it is most important to realize that the preceding generations deserve much of the credit for this attribute. I, as a millennial, grew with stories of lay-offs to people 6 months from receiving pensions, underfunded retirement plans, corporate greed at employee expense, immoral and unethical political representatives and the total fallacy that is Social Security for my generation.

    You will have to forgive me if I do not feel inclined to "pay my dues" only to have my gold watch renigged.

    We are not cynical (for the most part) about these systemic issues. Indeed quite the opposite, we are hopeful in some respects and are eager to take the reins for ourselves, which is construed by some as overzealousness.

    The professor's argument suggests that this is trait. Rather, this is a response to the misdeeds of others. One may say that is up to us to step to the plate first; however, I disagree. After all, you are our elders!
    • Emanuel Dass
    • Business Adviser, ABMC Mortgages PL
    As a parent of a spritely "gen yer," I find her perspectives valuable as a budding professional. However, her father, who grew up as an undergraduate in cosmopolitan London, had the benefit of being nurtured in a academically demanding but iconoclastic environment, where training to "think" has equipped me to understand my daughter's world.

    Her world, I think, is no more complex as to work
    and life challenges than my own. I would argue that the complexity in her case has qualitative differences in an interconnected world that is "idealogically in transition".

    That has given her a type of "Machiavellian wisdom" lacking in my generation concerning work and life.

    Folks, I suggest that senior executives when mentoring
    this generational crop read Machiavelli to balance out their other business school inspirations.
    • Anonymous
    I am a part of this generation, but i have to say that we are all a little bit too drunk on how great we believe we are. We should get a grip. For me, the ideal generation in modern history is not the baby boomers but the one before that. just my 2 cents for you guys!
    • mortgagepresentforfuture
    • Consultant
    There is a difference in people born in UK, US and the developed world, and generations born in the developing and emerging world. I am 27 and have lived most of my life in a developing country. Now in the UK I am BA+MBA qualified. However my thinking is totally different to most 27 year olds in the UK.

    I respect the experience of those who have titles of VP, Director etc etc. but also am aware that this experience may not be relevant in the very near future. I take full advantage of this knowledge.... Although... I don't go shouting out that I represent a generation that ridicules an older generation (sorry.. no chip on my shoulder).. I learn and use whatever I can from the boomers... because .. remember boomers control the present...

    I want to make money and as someone said before I want to have time to spend my money and I dont see a difference between work and life, so when I work: I work smart+hard and am thrilled to be doing what I do.... there-in lies my strength. I work for a small business that provides innovative + creative solutions to business and we are extremely global in our outlook....

    However this is not the trend in the developing economies yes millenniels in these regions embrace technology and yes they want to have things that their parents didnt but they still have a work ethic and ambitions very similar to boomers in the UK, US and the developed world.. therefore looking at the Indians, Chinese markets these millennials still have baby boomer aspirations and its these markets that are growing faster than the rest.

    What I have noticed is that the young uns of 15 to 20 in these economies (developing) show real millennial characteristics...they have skipped a generation.

    Therefore this is not a global trend it is a developed world trend and we will find that the newly emerging markets India, China, Russia etc. will have 25 - 35 year olds who have strong baby boomer characteristics..I know this cause I have met them and deal with them..

    This trend is NOT global it is based on how developed a economy is and we should be smart enough to understand this and take note of leadership patterns arond the world...

    As for me being a millennial or boomer.. im not concerned.. i dont think anyone should....its just a question of are we ready for the future or not? and to be successful in the future we have to be in the mix now! so we as so called millennials better get smart about how we go about things now!
    • Martin Cuesta, Ph.D.
    • Director, Universidad Argentina de la Empresa/ UADE University
    I think it's very interesting to find that characteristics managers list about millennials are the same that teachers usually use to describe them. I work for a University in Argentina and, of course, most of our present students (and some of our teachers and employees too) are Gen Yers. So, yes, maybe it's a global phenomenon.

    Some of Millennial characteristics (preferring group activity, being fascinated with technologies, being goal-oriented and multitasking, for example) are wonderful to improve their learning and working. But others sometimes make it hard to work with them: they usually overvaluate their contributions, are very impatient and sometimes depend a lot on continuous positive feedback.

    They have rights and wrongs, like any other people, no matter what generation they belong to, but they will certainly develop a very special management style.

    Nowadays, as we all know, technology is a powerful tool for business. Millennials' natural relationship with it and the social, communicative and intellectual competencies they have learnt to develop are the best and most meaningful capital they can provide to their companies as managers. But, we know, they can take it wherever they go! I think that as long as companies understand this, they can create the right working place Millennials need to develop all their potential.
    • Vinayakan
    • Senior Business Analyst, American Express
    In my opinion, millennials are very much the quintessential Google, I-pod generation. The learning system boomers went through was how much can they 'recall' and 'reproduce' from the text at the time of examination. Compare it with the millennial learning model, which is 'how soon can the information be retrieved' and put to use. Just don't tax your brain with recalling the learnt stuff.

    Millennials will add a lot of spunk, sense of urgency and innovation to the workplace, simply because challenging the status quo is in their DNA. As for how they will manage, just take a look at Google; it is the perfect example of a millennial organization.

    Organizations of today have to just unshackle the millennial generation's energy rather than try to fit it forcibly into a straightjacketed rigid culture. In summary, the knowledge economies of today and the millennial are made for each other. Yes, millennials are high maintenance; they are high risk but at the same time they are 'sky-is-the-limit' output employees. Don't manage them, let them manage themselves, organizations and beyond.

    I am a millennial, too.
    • vivek
    i dont quite understand what Mr. Chiba means when he says "quick gratification". Sir, with due respect to your thinking, which i am sure is due to your experiences, employees of today have not grown up in the comparative era of plenty. It wouldn't be wrong if i say that they have grown up in a ruthless "competitive" era of plenty! An era where if you do not perform, someone else will; if you do not ask, you will not get.
    • Shaiful
    We are dealing with a huge intergenerational gap issue. The contributing factor to this gap is perpetuated mainly by faceless-oriented communication that substantially marginalizes face to face communication; we are becoming a faceless society. Internet, gadgets, technology innovation have all taken face to face communication up to a point that brings about many changes to cultures and standards of management, thus leadership.

    Regardless of whether we come from b- boomers G or Gen Y, we are society at large. We need each other in one way or another to move ahead, literally in business as well as socially. The leader of the future, no matter what generation he comes from, must have great respect for human value, in-depth knowledge of human intuition, and most of all the guts to act independently without prejudice to the extent of sacrificing one's own pursuits. I wonder if we need a bridge. Wouldn't we?
    • Anonymous
    I'm not sure anyone can say what the future will bring ... period.

    I'm not sure that the description is limited to only millennial generation ... as some responders have suggested. I'm almost 72 and the above describes me, as well as two of my three children.

    I believe it comes down to values. As one person once told me, there are two types of people: maintainers and builders. Perhaps this latest generation is made up of more builders than maintainers ... so the real question perhaps should be, "How will the businesses, run by millennials, be maintained?" ... not how they will be managed.
    • Rowland Freeman
    It did surprise me to see the number af anonymous comments. As a counsellor to small business the characteristics which show up most frequently (and noted above) are impatience and a distain for strategy or even business planning. It's only when we get to the question of "how are you going to finance your startup" that the realization hits them, the bank wants a great deal of detail and trying to ignore that amount of detail means no loan.

    While they are certainly more information technology oriented, their concept of planning is "let's do it". That's the down side. On the up side they are intelligent, friendly, curious, but with a very loose management style, and not easily discouraged. It's fun counseling them, but only more time will tell whether their management style is successful or whether they have more or equal business failures. Running a busness is hard work and takes patience and perhaps this will come with a few more years.
    • Anonymous
    I'll try my best to prove you right!!
    • Prof. K. Prabhakar
    • Director, KSR College of Technology
    Though I was not in the subset, I had an opportunity to thought and interact with them as my students, I will try to provide answers to some of the questions put forth.

    Will they open up their organizations more widely to global opportunities?

    The answer is yes. They are socially sensitive, more honest in self disclosure and open to new ideas. My research with Indian entrepreneurs indicates that they are ready to expose themselves to global opportunities and global risks. However, they have a high attention deficit and many times I found them in need of fast solutions rather than solutions based on longer research.

    If we compare their reading styles, they prefer shorter, focussed books rather than long, research-based books. We find that they prefer Fish, Who moved my cheese?, The Present, and other quick reads. I will be happy if James Heskett clarifies this. Is it due to operation of attention economics or attention deficiency?

    Will they create work environments in which jobs fit into personal life styles rather than vice-versa?

    Yes. Some of the examples are Google and IDEO, where they created an ecosystem that will really make employment an extention of home or vice versa. However, I have not much research in this area. They also would like to outsource tasks that they think can be done by others at cheaper costs.

    Will they encourage mobility in their employees? Or will they express the same concerns as those for whom they currently work? What do you think?

    The answer is that while they may not encourage it, they will be less sensitive to employee turnover. However, I have seen many rejoin their old organiations. The nature of task aggregation and job roles is different compared to the older generation.

    I alse find them to be more entrepreneurial and risk-taking compared to other generations.
    • L. Santhosh
    • Associate Consultant, Siemens India
    "How will millennials manage?"
    A chain is as strong as its weakest link.
    Most reader comments have been more or less on similar lines supporting the the theory of "millennial superiority".

    Even the common people manage. They are managers in their own right. By 'common people', I refer to those who don't steer or manage organisations but are those whose personal management as well as the management of their family's pulls/ pushes/ purchases and debits and credits impact the economy, the global economy as much as the manager who tries to woo them with their products and services.

    In this thread, they are the forgotten weak links. How do these people from gen-Y compare with their baby boomer counterparts?

    The answer will probably lead us to know whether millennials are indeed a "special brand" (Something in the stars? - from Alice Richmond's comments above) or just a product of an evolving zeitgeist?

    If it's the latter, which I bet on, gen-neXt will manage even better.
    • Prof. K. Prabhakar
    • Director, KSR College of Technology
    This is Prabhakar again.

    Carolyn Martin and Bruce Tulgan, Managing the Generation Mix, 2nd Edition (HRD Press, 2006).

    I am really glad that Prof. Jim Heskett chose this topic for discussion. Since the topic addresses wider audience and I arrogated myself to talk at length about the topic. I am really sorry to post such a long posting. If we go through works of Daniel Bell (1976)"The Coming of Post Industrial Society" and on Social Forecasting, we can discern some of the trends. Let us consider the period before 1970 and find what was its guiding philosophy. The modern Western Society was able increase rising standard of living by peaceful means as an alternative to war, plunder and other means of growth. However, PRODUCTIVITY has been used as an effective antidote to other modes of growth. This is by effective substitution of human effort by machines created by engineers and planning by economists. He named the phenomenon as economizing. It is essential technique to reduce waste. In order to understand the concept we use rational means to satisfy plurality of ends.

    The ends are never specified and they evolved and no conscious decision is made what should be right ends unlike the economies based on communism. Similarly, the corporation is a social innovation that made productivity institutionalized. The army, another institutionalization concept is based on waste, plunder and fascism. The corporations such as General Motors as designed by Alfred P. Sloan, coordinates men, materials and markets for the production of goods and services at least cost with the best possible return on investment. This is achieved by functional rationality. Alfred P. Sloan's book, My Years With General Motors, provides evidence to this mode, as he uses three words concept, methodology and rationality. The success of General Motors is based on clear market strategy based on product and organizational design. The entire process is guided by price system.

    However, as pointed out by Viable, it is not the price system and the value system of the culture in which the economy is embedded. The price system is relative allocation of goods and services within the framework of demand that is generated. The value system of the society both capitalist and communist is devised around desirability of economic growth; it is increased private consumption of goods and services. However, they talk of only goods that have monetary value. However, the best things in life are free such as clean air, water etc.

    The cost to society by pollution is ignored. Only a fraction of the cost is born by manufacturer and the society bears the externalities. The other outcome is disparity between private and public goods. Taxes are not considered as necessary to purchase or create the public goods. With this mindset the man from before 1970 is the social costs are ignored. Here Daniel Bell, suggests another mode known as sociologizing mode. In economizing mode individual is a unit around which the costs and benefits are reckoned. It is a utilitarian fallacy and fallacy of aggregation that sum of the individual decisions will optimize the social decisions. A car may optimise an individual satisfaction, however it is not desirable if it results in traffic jams that takes hours and pollutes the environment.

    We need an alternative that judges social needs in more conscious fashion, or in public interest. This needs to establish social justice by inclusion of all persons into the society. The post 1970 generation is expected to have this particular kind of mode. The pre 1970 generation is a product of war, economizing, and experimentation with ideology. The post 1970 generation has totally different agenda for itself. That is of more liberal, human and socially and globally responsible citizenry.

    Is it possible to find these characteristics in them? To a large extent, we can discern these tendencies. Mozilla, social web, wikipedia are some of the examples that take sociologizing mode. In my opinion we may have to examine the millennials in the context of what is expected of them from society.
    • Sharika Kaul
    • Business Strategist, Media Company
    I think an organization's culture can be a powerful influencer on the performance of an employee -- it can either create doers or the opposite. So when we look at an organizational model, we also need to apply the rules of 'nurture'. We become what we see. We do what we see. A new employee invariably comes with his own personal baggage. But it is the responsibility of the new organization to ensure that he imbibes the value system of the company, while helping him retain his own individuality and spirit.

    That's the only way for the company to grow -- absorb the new with the old, maybe shake or even disrupt the system a bit and improve. There is no doubt that the inherent character of employee, which some may say is partly influenced by his zodiac sign or the decade in which he is born, also matters. But as human beings go, does he have the capability to acquire new traits, behaviors and even a value system? Yes, he does. People always want to do better, feel better. It is then up to the organization to build on it.
    • Deepak Alse
    • Project Leader, Wipro Technologies
    There are ' Millennials' who have ' Had it all' and then there are 'Millennials' who have ' Had not much'...The theories propounded here clearly apply ONLY to those who have had it all...A miracle of what democracy & liberal education through schools, colleges and universities brings...The magic of the millenials is all thanks to the revolutionary 60s and 70s that brought green revolution, food security and scientific progress to the nations that had democracy and liberal education!

    Some of the discussion here tends to forget that through centuries of human existence, the younger people in a society always have speed, agility , new found creativity and faith in the current ideal....The Millenials are no different from the Baby boomers in their 20s and 30s in that aspect.

    The Key difference is the global perspective spurred by the explosion in communication technology and the economics of cost and market availability..A perspective that spurs willingness to go where they believe their dreams will be fulfilled.

    As for the Millenials who have not had much to begin with....globalisation of economies will either turn them to violent detractors or spur them to gain the skills needed to succeed in a global world . And that needs to be the focus of the 'Millenial Have it all's and the 'Baby Boomers' too...If the ones that have been left behind are not brought into this global world, the risk is that you will lose everything...

    You cannot manage the 'Millennial's..they are too confident, learning with the barrage of information all over their life and still focussed on finding that can only lead them..This is the age of 'influence' & 'coopetition'..They are yet to get over the fascination for tags, titles and psycho babble descriptions of 'leadership' and ' management'...Sooner than the other generations, they will get over it...because the global system wont allow fluff to float around for too long... The story here is to manage the generation mix..any organisation looking for sustained long term success needs multiple levels of expertise , wisdom and energy!
    • J. Newburn
    • Consultant, JN & Associates
    Hi there. This author, while he has some interesting points, does very little to articulate the influences and life paths of Millennials.

    If you're looking for informative, researched and applied insights into Millennials, I can't recommend highly enough the work of Strauss and Howe, who run a business called Lifecourses.

    I blog about their work often at
    • Anonymous
    I have trained a few millenials and am perplexed. They are hyper-confident and computer literate, but seemingly to the exclusion of the needs of others in the class. I would worry about their lack of concern for others as managers. They seem impatient and I can see how this comes from the parenting they received. I would be concerned about their management style because their impatience could end up being discriminatory.
    • Mary Burns
    • Adjunct Professor, Loyola University Chicago
    Professor Heskett raises an important question especially in view of the fact that many Millinneals assume that Management will be "automatic" and will come far faster than it did those before them.

    In my observations in both corporate America as well as teaching in the MBA program at Loyola University Chicago, I see many Millineals possessing the qualities described in the article: self-focused, a need for instant gratification and a lack of patience for development time (forget the basics of business, how the organization functions and why, their place in it, and laying a foundation for early career success). They are masters of new technology with a desire to work through teams and networks, which by, the way, runs counter to their what's-in-for-me behavior which is often on display.

    While business will surely not "skip an entire generation of managers", those Millennials who succeed and rise through various ranks of management will likely be those who leverage all of the advantages of a technology-oriented global marketplace and who are fully engaged with the organization and understand its mission and strategy. They will bring to bear the advantages of collaboration through groups and networks while multi-tasking away each day. They will also possess the qualities of successful managers: patience, leadership, knowledge, compassion and humanity -- all of which is developed over time, and cannot be gained while hiding behind a computer screen.

    This new generation of workers are clearly well traveled, better educated (at times over-educated believing that it gives them a free pass to race right to management) are more confident in their abilities and what they have to offer. At the same time, many lack essential ingredients that will serve them as successful managers -- professional insight and maturity -- which comes over time and is at the heart of developing good judgment in the workplace.

    When a worker leaves a job after 10 days (#62 above) due to career advancement opportunity issues and because the firm lacked the "social" work environment needs he was after, it's a classic example of the lack of professional maturity and judgment on behalf of this generation. My first reaction to this was, why wouldn't these matters be addressed during the interview process?

    Unfortunately, many wil skip from one firm to the next, in rapid succession, searching for the right challenge to meet "their needs" forgetting that meaningful employment takes into consideration an exchange -- a give-and-take relationship where both the individual and firm win. Those who get this might be outstanding Millinneal managers.

    Mary M. Burns,
    Author, Entitled to What: A Reality Check for the Generation Entering Corporate America
    • Superbeast
    • Grad student
    Millenial culture has been heavily influenced by Asian-American culture, especially that found in a place like Irvine, CA. We were the first generation to fight the "achievement wars" in school between, for the most part, Asians and whites. Say what you want about this, it was my reality and it keeps going on. There is not much racism involved; in fact a certain amount of camaraderie and a lot of respect developed in the circles I studied in.

    Having spent the majority of my life in this game, imagine my complete horror upon doing internships and having to collaborate with older workers who lacked ambition, almost always took the path of least resistance, didn't want anybody to rock the boat lest they lose their grip, and most importantly, didn't really care whether they won or lost, as long as they kept getting their paycheck. I don't really care about the paycheck! I can get another paycheck. I want to fight and win! And paychecks disappear anyways if you keep on losing, in the long run.

    While I was busting my butt in school, on the soccer field, at band practice, on the track, apparently my parents were getting paid a lot of money to stare at excel spreadsheets, bullshit at meetings, and redefine problems instead of solving them. You've created this monster, now do you have what it takes to deal with it? And as long as you're staring at your spreadsheets, could you please use the hotkeys? Pleeeaaase use the hotkeys.

    Actually I can understand the technology deficit. That has to do with the physiology of learning new skills and I'm sure that one day I will be tech-obsolete too. But not having drive! I probably sound like an impudent [bleep], but why on earth did we have to get all those achievements if you were going to slow us down from 100 mph to 5 mph the moment we entered the real world? We have tremendous competitive advantages and you're squandering them! Get out of our way! Give us the power! We can use it better!

    Honestly though, my work experiences have been completely demoralizing because everyone who had authority over me was so ineffectual. This is the fault of management, not my bad attitude. If anything, I had a better attitude than my managers. I'm starting to think entrepeneurship is the only way I can be happy with my job.
    • Anjleena Dewan
    • Product Manager, ON24
    The definition of Good Managers is not set in stone. But, the most important traits for Good Managers are - maturity, great leadership and great people skills. These have not changed over the years - so I dont have a doubt that the mettle of next gen Managers has changed either. Gen Y will lead! and lead well! It will be a mix as before, and some will fall and some will shine. But, I dont have an iota of doubt that our qualities will make us less adept at being Good Leaders. No Way!
    • Anonymous
    This is an interesting article- although I bet it has been written about every "generation" of workers since the Baby Boomers. I think in post-industrial America, smart workers, born in America or outside it, realize that effectively leveraging technology is the "way out" that a college degree used to be. Everyone from Bill Gates to a bus driver is given two hands and 24 hours in the day - we can only take that so far.

    The ability to exploit technology to create income, or take care of daily needs while we are actively engaged in the pursuit of income through other pursuits, is a force multiplier that is not dependent on age, pedigree, wealth, or connections. As such, it scares the hell of out of Baby Boomers with Harvard MBAs and developed social networks because it represents a paradigm shift in effectiveness. I think we are always quick to cling to "what got us here," and for those folks it was either a) wealth+family power, and/or b) mindless grinding, like their parents did.

    Boomers look down at "Millenials" and see them performing work more quickly with better results than they did at that age. It's no different than when I go to the file room and see a 30 page brief that was typed with a typewriter- I can crank out the same document today in less than half the time because it doesn't need to be retyped every time I want to change an argument. That doesn't mean I have better arguments than the lawyers in my firm did 30 years ago- it just means I can do my job better because of a change in technology and my willingness to learn it. It would be meaningless for a lawyer who stills uses a typewriter to speculate on the efficacy of my arguments simply because I cranked them out in an easier fashion, because those are two different things. And if I can spend 15 hours on a brief instead of 30, then yes, I should get a new file to work on. And if I handle 200 matters a year instead of 100, I might move forward more quickly in my career than if I insisted on using a typewriter.

    The author of the article also fails to take into account the huge increase in competition to get into, and succeed at, graduate programs in business and law. If you look at historical LSAT and GMAT scores, and numbers of applicants v. numbers accepted, I think you would find that it is getting harder and harder to be accepted into a top program on merit. We are also competing against legions of foreign students with superior test scores and financial backing from their corporations and governments. Affirmative action has further shrunken the number of seats in graduate programs available to merit applicants. The perceived sense of entitlement forwarded by the author may merely reflect a sense of achievement from the graduates entering the workforce after a much more rigorous course of study. This technology stuff works two ways- MBA students in 1950 did not have to master Powerpoint to graduate.

    In short, I believe a strong manager should not be intimidated by staff members who bring additional competencies that the manager may not share, because their responsibilities are different: strategic management versus technical application of skill to tactical issues. I also believe that a strong manager should actively develop other managers from staff members that show potential. Therefore, if the "Millenials," in spite of superior technical skills, "grow up" to be inferior managers, some of the blame must rest on the managers that be.
    • Anonymous
    Millennials see how life should be rather than how it is. We (for I am also a millennial) see a world where everyone should be given "meaningful work", "have managers who understand their needs and lay out career options," and if you work hard, you are rewarded with an "accelerated path to success."

    Since we see how life should be, we demand that those above us live up to that. We can't stand to sit tight, pay our dues, and wait for meaningful work to arrive. If you can't provide it, we'll find someone who can.

    So is this the fault of millennials or the fault of those above us who refuse to change for the better? Millennials would be incredibly loyal employees if only our managers would live up to what they should be.

    As they progress, Millennials will become some of the best managers ever seen. We will strive to provide those we manage with meaningful work, career options, and we will reward those who work hard with accelerated paths to success...because that's they way it should be.
    I have learned most of the theories of human behaivor during the years I spent in school (engineering and MBA), but what is really amazing in this paper is how it has shown some of the characteristics of my 22-year-old son.
    • Anonymous
    I agree that such broad generalizations from both boomers and gen yers are not productive. We need all people to be independent thinkers and challenge the status quo as well as team players. We are never going to be able to get beyond generalization, solve the problems that exist in the world today and build a better future for ourselves and our children without the ongoing contributions of all four generations working together globally.

    Great Managers are those that consistently learn, grow and adjust to meet the needs of the business and the teams they manage. There is not a single cookie cutter solve for being a great manager. Gen Yers will learn, grow, and bring their values to management and that will help us all evolve until the next generation questions those strategies.
    • Anonymous
    I work for an organisation with many national components across the country. One part of the organisation is its vibrant centre. Just a fact. What interests me most is the observation that those in the "outposts", on the not so-vibrant periphery, quickly adapt as they transfer to the centre until, finally, you cannot tell where they came from. That observation has always fascinated me: how the perception of "outlanders from outposts" changes, as if it were a revelation.

    What interests me most in these discussions about inter-generational differences is to look under the hood provided by the context. Are millenials any different as human beings to those who came before? You have to do a lot of abstracting away before you come to the realisation that the answer is a simple no.

    Stripped bare, millenials prove to be no different to those who came before. Of course, clothed in their context mantles, is a different matter; but, the subtlety of a bare human being and the mantle they wear is often confused for the human being themselves. The millenials' means of coping has changed in contrast to their parents; the millenials themselves have not. How millenials operate is quite transparent and wholly expected, within the bounds of what one can say about a whole class of human beings.

    Millenials from the outposts will come to the centre. Eventually, their description as millenials will fade as they deal with the reality which lies before them by donning their new mantles of context. The only remnant of who they were will be flagged by their date of birth, and little more.
    • len
    • Senior Application Developer, UAI
    Millennials coined the term 'starter marriage'. That says it all.

    In careers or marriage, staying power is everything.
    • Mennen Aracid
    • Faculty, Ateneo Graduate School of Business
    Some possibilities of millennial managers:

    1. Working in teams; collaborating simultaneously in-shore and off-shore;
    2. Pay for performance;
    3. Will hire per project basis instead of long term employment;
    4. Millennials will probably reward long term gains and ideas that promote quick wins.
    • Anonymous
    Like horoscopes, these kinds of generalizations may seem apt to everyone on some level--whether to themselves as a "millennial" or to "millennials" whom they may know. But the reality is that there exists a great variety of talents and temperaments in every generation. Although there's always been a bit of hand-wringing among elders wondering how the next crop will turn out, by and large, and generation after generation, "the kids are all right." Economic forces, rather than a supposed generational lack of commitment, are the prime drivers in short-term vs. long-term employment.
    • Lynn Busby
    • Program Manager, IBM
    I have followed this discussion with great interest and am especially pleased to be able to read the opinions of non-US Millennials I have given presentations on the topic of generational differences at work many times inside my company. My goal was simple to provide an awareness of the differences of the generations and different perceptions of the ?right? way to do things. When cultures clash, well meaning people can work against each other and not really understand why i.e. ?Can two rights make a wrong?? to borrow the title from the book by Sara Mouton Reiger. What one generational culture sees as being right, may be in conflict with what another generational culture deems to be ?right.? Awareness of these differences can help us work better together as with any diversity program.

    As a by product of trying to create this awareness of the differences in generational cultures inside my company, many conversations have been spurred around the topic, here?s what I have found:

    Many Boomers are still waiting for the Gen Xers and G Yers to ?grow up?- i.e. to come to accept the value of the Boomers in business, to ?mold them? to conform to the Boomer way of doing things. These Boomers will be disappointed.

    Gen Xers are the ones who have the most ?Aha?s? from my presentations explaining the generational differences at work and recognizing their own preferences as part of their generation. Often they have felt their differences with Boomers, but hadn?t verbalized it before. e.g. They respect competence ? not title, not seniority, but competence at any age.
    Gen Yers are so digitally native, they can?t understand what they haven?t lived. i.e. a world without word processing, email, cell phones, and text messaging. They lack perspective, but then again how important is it to have used a typewriter.

    I read a book some time ago called Techno Trends by Daniel Burris in which he indicated that future success depends on giving people what they would want if they only knew they could have it (e.g. ebay, Google, Amazon, Apple, WiPro) Seems like the GenX/GenY have a better idea of what that might be than the status quo boomers. Not only are these customers giving their customers what they would want if they only knew they could have it, but Google in particular has set a new course for ?how to work.? The Google work environment is all the rage, but note that profits are the key to being able to accommodate things like free lunch, recreational sites, etc for employees.

    My personal business hero is W. Edwards Deming, who brought Quality Management via Statistical Process Control (SPC) to Japan after WW II which took the long term perspective and the effect has been to slowly capture marketshare by the likes of Toyota. The quality movement became so pervasive by the late 1990s we took it for granted. By the way, there are always exceptions to the rule not all good/fresh ideas come from the young. Deming was 50 years old when he made his first trip to Japan. He had tried to sell his concept of SPC with the emphasis on producing quality to American business in the early 1950s, but his ideas fell on deaf ears. In the 1950s with the shortage of goods in the world after WWII, America could sell anything it could make and didn?t have interest in quality since it ?didn?t matter.? Is China going through that experience today?
    Someone earlier mentioned that the hypergrowth emerging countries are skipping a generation: is there a generational culture clash looming over there?

    Deming, advised against short term thinking. Most American businesses (which are run by Boomers) are still trying to show profits by cutting more and more costs every quarter. We are running out of ?costs? to cut. I certainly hope that Millennials will find a way of making profits by increasing the revenue side of the profit equation.

    The quest for (new) revenue is why the business buzz is now is on innovation, a word which is already becoming hackneyed. Innovation does not germinate well in a climate of fear. Deming also advised to eliminate fear?. and slogans ?.and exhortations. Boomers have adapted all too well to a culture of fear which is why some of the writings above typify Boomers as unwilling to take risk. Millennials are turned off by hype without competence. Empty Slogans and exhortations actually do harm to the climate for Millennials. Millennials are more likely to create a climate that encourages creativity via trust and respect for the individual. Trust and respect for the individual is something very important that got lost in the Boomer era of greed ? the culture impact of the Enron scandal will not be soon forgotten.
    Will older corporations impose their way of doing things to change the values and work ethic of the Millennials, or will the Millennials impose their own value set on how the organization will do business? I don?t think we can ask the Millennials to slow down ? their fear is being run over by speed and agility in the global business world. The big corporations are striving to be nimble, but they still have mostly boomers at both the throttle and the steering wheel. Experience is a wonderful thing, but there aren?t too many 80 year old race car drivers (Paul Newman being the exception)

    One more thing? Dorothy Leonard (also of Harvard) has defined something she calls ?deep smarts? It is ?the build up of experiences and pattern recognition that comes as close to wisdom or intuition? that we have. The significant part about gaining deep smarts for this discussion is that it takes about 10 years to obtain it and there are no shortcuts. There is no question the Millennials are bright and generally well educated, but will they stay in the same company long enough to develop deep smarts about it? To avoid costly mistakes? To learn from their mentors? To leverage the experience of others to temper their speed and agility to also gain deep smarts? I sincerely hope so.

    Lynn Busby (Boomer)
    Program Manager
    • Ayo Otaiku
    • Managing Partner, Arati Environmental Limited
    Your reserach and view never mention places like Africa. I have research on how millienials will be able to make science a business as they have created wealth with information and communication technology like YOUTUBE etc., for years, especially in biotechnology. Millenials are the brain trust to change African enterprices if someone could structure this model into African education curricula as human capital growth indicators.
    • Anonymous
    As a millenial, I think the boomers need to take a look at their own actions before being so quick to judge us. Everyday, we bear witness to another mega-corporation having it's top 'baby boomer' management being accused of fraud, mis-handling the company's money, buying ridiculous things for themselves, family, and friends on the company's dime, fudging the numbers so they can push up their stock prices and pad their bank accounts.....etc, etc.....

    Do any of you stop to wonder WHY we have a problem with authority? Who do we look up to? We are blazing our own paths to correct what so many of the boomers view as normal:

    1. Be the best you can by helping your fellow man (this does not mean buying yourself a nicer Porsche to bring better aesthetics to the neighborhood).

    2. Just because you're paying someone to work for you doesn't mean they have to be miserable doing it. Watching our parents live in fear of their bosses and constantly being stressed out from working 50+ hours a week is good incentive to want to change the way things are done. Make work fun! If you don't want to, we'll find someone else who does. Or start our own company.

    3. The constant strive for more productivity has got to stop. The boomer's view on productivity and constantly pressing for more has come at the price of society's happiness. We're going to change that.

    4. Working harder to earn more money to buy more stuff is not a life.
    • Jim Sullivan
    Wait 'til they're your doctors!!!
    • Sowmia Gopinathan
    • MBA Student, IBS, Mumbai
    I believe that there is no way to distinguish or compare the managerial talents of millenials, every generation would surely have the pros & cons which would be a combination of experience,exposure,talents,technological evolution during that era and the corporate atmosphere as a whole,but yet the same would be different in different individuals.. there is no tag that could be attached to them.There would be certain characteristics similar which may be considered as in this case - judgment, team playing ability-since they are used to that form of working,challengers - as they have been struggling their way through and other things that build up the list of managerial qualities. Still the question of being an effective manager.. and how they would manage would be too specific.. Obviously, no generation lives in a cocoon stage, everything is learned.. so is this case, the inhibited qualities,molded with the need of the hour would
    make the millenials successful in managing at any level of the hierarchy.. as cited by many friends in this discussion who are at a very respectable and demanding position themselves.
    • Ashley Grayson
    • VP Development, Criteria, LLC
    Having done significant primary research on the Millennials for several years, we can say that they are surprisingly different from the parent generations in several key values and behaviors. Millenials regard "change" as a shift of fashion, not a sign of progress; they demonstrate "control" through ironic dissmissal, not mastery of the subject or craft, and value acceptance within their personal group of friends over public recognition. Apple knows how to engage with them. Sony, Dell amd Wal-Mart don't have a clue. Anyone interested in further information is welcome to contact us through:
    We will be happy to send a short tip sheet.