1. The GenY / intellectual property issue.
2. Top companies customize GenY training programs.
3. GenYs may find your organization as challenging as you find them.

The GenY / intellectual property issue.

As holiday gifts are opened, many young people will receive computer flash drives which are embedded into jewelry, key-chains, pens, voice recorders or other Millennial Generation day-to-day accessories.

The sparkling pendant hanging around your employee’s neck can hold two to four gigs of any information… including corporate or customer information.

This is a concern for companies with retention, trust or loyalty concerns, because your GenYs are members of a generation which has a different approach to information.

They grew up on the internet, and sometimes regard data as a type of public property. Their lives, moods, activities and photographs are shared by a few hundred friends on Facebook. “Intellectual property” can sound sooo like some Microsoft litigation thing. Many GenYs have at least one Linux t-shirt, and “everyone” knows that open-source is cool.

Top companies customize GenY training programs.

Some organizations are still grumbling “when are those kids going to grow up,” but many top companies have grasped that 80 million GenYs are largely “who they are” and going to stay that way . The Millennial generation is not going to change many of its core characteristics. These organizations’ strategic plans deal with that reality, and they are creating training and management which meets the needs of all generations. (Seriously, it’s not that hard to do!)

If you train GenYs, take a look at reports on the UPS /Virginia Tech Integrad project for inspiration. If you look past the bells and whistles of the Saddle Brook NJ program, you will see the usual principles of good GenY training.

GenYs are not the only frustrating ones.

It’s common to hear complaints about GenYs, but the Millennial Generation has their own frustrations. There are far too many to list here, but a common one is that they are full of innovative ideas which are ignored. Every cohort has new ideas, but this one thinks in a dramatically different way from the generations before them, even when compared with GenX. And they often have the “Mouth” to say so.

But your Millennials are currently finding out a great truth about business - that risk takers and innovators are a good thing in theory, but in practice they usually receive a very cool reception.

”You should not wonder why innovation doesn’t happen in most organizations. For much of the journey, innovation is hard work rewarded by bad headlines” says Rick Porras et al in “Success Built to Last” (2006, Wharton School Publishing), which explores the work of successful people who have achieved extraordinary results for at least 20 years.

Porras et al define the best strategy for innovators as “tolerate the risks, feel the fear, take the brickbats, learn from failure and do what matters to you anyway”. Oh yes? GenYs are a lot more likely to blog bitterly about how their ideas are being ignored, and then look for another employer, or get some start-up capital and become entrepreneurs.

What your managers need to know:

Managing the Millennials is not simply an intuitive process which can be done without specific thought about the challenges which this demographic group presents.

Embedding this principle in the organization’s knowledge:

Organizations themselves can learn to become progressively more agile in response to differentness. Generational differentness is merely one part of the spectrum of human diversity.

You don’t help your organization learn to cope with heterogeneity because it is a compliance issue. You do this because it creates competence and confidence in the organization’s ability to respond easily and fluently to cultural, lifestyle and generational differences. And the result is trust, communication, agility, innovation and good business - on the bottom line. This is the kind of competitive advantage which companies like Genentech have been leveraging for years!

Book recommendation

Dov Seidman’s How: Why How We Do Anything Means Business (and in Life). Probably more for the serious reader of business and management books, but a great explanation of the need for reputation and trust in a transparent business world (which tech-savvy GenYs live in).

You can safely dismiss Publishers Weekly’s comment that Seidman does not explain exactly how this can be done. I wondered whether those guys live under a rock if they haven’t seen any of the last 15 years of literature and research on exactly how these strategies can be implemented! :)

Author's Bio: 

Glynis Ross-Munro has three degrees in education and psychology, and many years of experience as a training manager, instructional designer, learning scientist, presenter and educationalist.