Monday, April 27, 2009


Your Fear Of Millennials Is Not Our Fault
By Gabriella Calabro

While many people in today’s society worry over terrorist attacks, illegal immigration, and the downward spiral of the economy, CEOs and managers have something much more serious to focus on — Millennials.

The generation of people under 30 is graduating college and entering the workforce, and although their main worry is how to find a job in today’s market, their future bosses have other fears.

This generation born between 1982 and 1995 causes so much concern that CBS News 60 Minutes did a report in 2007 titled “The Millennials Are Coming,” that warned people how this generation would affect the workplace. As the Millennials get older and more of them are graduating college, the fear of how managers should handle them also grows’ according to the report.

Dozens of books and articles have been published that advise older generations how to work with Millennials. Although the 60 Minutes report tries to portray this generation in a negative light, they don’t do a very good job. They warn future employers that, “They multitask, talk, walk, listen and type, and text.” How horrible that must be.

The website for Generations at Work lists the characteristics of Millennials as, “Confident, hopeful, goal- and achievement-oriented, civic-minded, and inclusive.” As a part of this generation, it may be more difficult for me to understand, but do the Baby Boomer and Gen X CEOs and bosses want unconfident, unmotivated, lazy employees? That’s what it seems like if these are the traits they are complaining about.

Wallace Fischer, director of operations for The Boston Group of Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, , who has two children and an assistant who are part of the Millennial generation also does not understand the worry. “The limited exposure I have had is positive,” Fischer said. “I sense that this generation has a work ethic that has been missing in previous generations.”

Although he is exactly the audience that the 60 Minutes report tried to target, the message of fear seems to have missed him.

The “anti-Millennials movement” seems to lack clarity and structure. We are being penalized for being a generation in which trophies and rewards were given just for participation, and for being a generation who often never heard “no.”

Interestingly, it is not the Millennials’ fault. The children of the generation should not be getting blamed for something that they had no control over. The parents, teachers, coaches, and leaders of the Millennials, all of whom are part of either the Baby Boomers or Generation X, are the ones who encouraged the behavior, and are now the ones who are criticizing the effects of it.

So are they really blaming themselves? Are only people of the Baby Boom generation without kids, or without kids in this generation, writing these articles? This certainly is not clear when reading the articles.

While some people are enraged about what is being said, others seem to understand. “I think people have always been kind of scared of us,” says Lindsay Dowling a 19 year-old college student. “I remember being in middle school and teachers would be intimidated by us. We have an upper hand on technology, and ultimately there’s more of us than there are them, and it makes sense that they’re scared, but that’s not our fault.”

It is natural for the previous generation to be nervous that all their hard work will be disregarded and replaced, but the way they are handling it makes them look childish. They are projecting their fears onto the newer generation and making the younger people look as though they need to be tamed and have no idea what they are doing, when in reality the older generation just does not know how to handle themselves.

Fischer does not show any fear about the new generation. “I’m not nervous, every generation has to learn to lead, and there will always be capable leaders, it’s just finding out who they are,” he said.

It’s comforting to know that some Baby Boomer business people are confident in the Millennials.


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