Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Millenials are Different - So What Generation Isn't?
A lot of consultants have made a lot of money spouting expertise on the Millenial Generation, those who are 20-31 right now. Born from 1979 to 1991, they are more socially conscious, more technology savvy, likely to job hop, demand more in the workplace, latch-key kids and harder to convince sitting in a cubicle all day is a way to get ahead, etc., etc., etc.
Doctoral dissertations are written about them, businesses are grown around them and it still goes on.
But aside from the fact thatey have every generation before them beat on tech savvy are they really all that different from previous generations? I mean I really don't like their music and they spend more time on Facebook than I do but my parents didn't like our music and we talked on the phone all night long.
Oh and I forgot that millenials don't communicate as well in person because they're so used to texting all the time. But what kid whose in college, just got out or has not been in the workplace for awhile is really literate in grown-up, corporate speak?
I've worked with this generation and I think many of these studies, and many of the "Millenial Consultants" are spin masters. First of all, the recession has completely levelled the playing field. Those Millenials who went out and got jobs right after college or graduate school are no longer able to demand signing bonuses, raises or many of the other things they got away with when the economy was soaring.
Many have had to accept jobs that are not as lofty as those they envisioned and they've learned how to deal with that.They've been humbled by the economy, as we all have.
Second, there are always generational differences in the workplace, and some Millenials have a strong work ethic and others have been handed everything by their parents. How is that different than the world the rest of us grew up in? Doesn't it really come down to good parenting versus spoiling your children rotten?
So I propose that Millenials and those that follow them (other than the fact that my 12 year-old can program my iPhone and GPS while I have to watch her) aren't that different than previous generations. They're learning what they have to do to get ahead and figuring it all out as they go.
I saw a "Millenial Consultant" a couple of years ago at a trade show and she was in jeans and extremely entertaining. But personally, I would have preferred someone who taught me how to market my business rather than deal with a generation gap.
More power to the consultants who've created an industry out of this they've found the golden goose. But in the end, that was a fairy tale too.