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Managing the Informal Generation

Today’s 20-somethings (aka Millennials or Gen Y) will soon be in middle management and then among the ranks of senior leadership. For those of us minding this generation gap in the workplace today, Millennials offer unique management challenges and opportunities. This group of young employees is not necessarily motivated by the climbing the proverbial corporate ladder or driven by traditional corporate incentives. Where can you find common ground and motivate the talent?

Shira Harrington, president of Purposeful Hire, shared practical insights into engaging the Millennial generation—with particular emphasis on communication, work-life balance, and technology—during PRSA National Capital Chapter’s “20+ LeaderPack” luncheon on July 25.

Millennials recognize that the employer loyalty contract is broken, explained Harrington. “Their ethic is to fit work around business, and they grew up with helicopter parents meaning employer validation is important.”

These attitudes and a more casual approach to communications—lack of punctuation and capitalization in written materials or frequent attention to one’s smart phone for example—highlight significant generational differences in the workplace. Harrington advised seeking mutual understanding to resolve differences. Her tips include:

• Ban cell phones from meetings to help ensure the full attention of all participants.
• Be a mentor. Help younger staff develop strategic communications skills and the value of social media as a formal channel for interacting with key audiences.
• Learn what motivates the “fast pace” of Gen Y and leverage their interests and abilities for optimal performance in the work place.

With nearly 80 million Millennials, it’s essential for older generations to develop a understanding of and appreciation for this cohort of leaders.

PRSA-NCC’s “20+ LeaderPack” is an exclusive forum for senior level professionals with at least two decades of experience to build relationships, offer support, and jointly address common challenges and concerns. “20+ LeaderPack” offers facilitated discussions that tap into the collective wisdom of the Washington area’s top PR professionals.

By Tracy Schario, APR