I'm tired of hearing people complain about the Millennials, the latest generation to enter the workplace. Here's what they are saying about this generation: radicals, environmentalists, they want to change the world, and what's up with that hair? Oh wait a minute...that's exactly how we Baby Boomers were described in the sixties and we didn't turn out so bad!
I know I'm not going to change your mind overnight about the way you view this generation of workers, so instead I thought I would introduce you to one of the many inspiring young people I have interviewed while researching my forthcoming book, Tossed into Management!: The New Manager's Guide to Managing Up and Down. Perhaps this story and others, which I will share with you along the way, will provide some insight and understanding about this generation.
I first became aware of Michael Alston, Jr. when he posted a response to a question on LinkedIn regarding the Millennials in the workplace. I immediately contacted him after reading his impressive response. Michael is an emerging young leader who is a 24-year old Manufacturing Supervisor for Merck Pharmaceuticals, although between you and me, I think he's lying about his age! His perspective and level of maturity reminds me of a 40-year old. He told me that he gets that a lot!
Michael offered some wonderful insight as to why we have generational conflict in the workplace. Here are a few of his gems. If you want to read the rest, you'll have to buy the book!
"Due to the change in times, our generation works differently," states Michael. "Many of us are working for large corporations, where the systems are already established. Our role is to improve the systems." Michael notes that this type of work doesn't require the type of hours that those who have built the systems needed to spend in order to design and implement these processes. Michael also gives us insight into employee loyalty (or lack of it) as he reminds us that his generation is no longer is working for a pension. In fact, if they are lucky, they'll receive the opportunity to participate in a 401(k) plan and if they are really lucky, this plan will have a match.
Michael says that his parent's and grandparent's generation have taught him that nothing is forever, especially your job. Like many his age, he's all too familiar with the world of corporate lay-offs that his parent's generation has experienced.
I thought I would share one more secret that Michael told me. Many Millennials are building side-businesses because they know that in the long run, companies will not take care of them.
I don't know about you, but I wish I had as much insight at age 24, as Michael has. He's one rising star and if I were you, I'd try to catch him before he is out of reach!
Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Human Resource Solutions
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