What’s the first word that comes to mind when someone mentions “millennials?” Is it an encouraging descriptor or derogatory slur? If you buy into the more attention-grabbing headlines, you’d think the business world has been driven to the brink of disaster from a fresh crop of entitled slackers.
Not so much.
According to Buddy Hobart, generational expert and co-author of “Gen-Y Now: Millennials and the Evolution of Leadership,” this age cohort (born between 1980 and 2000) is the most educated, experienced, and ambitious workforce in history. Millennials are better prepared to handle change and the demands of our times than incumbent workers. Hobart also argues that it’s not a millennial issue but a leadership void that stirs up all of the controversy.
He points out that the seven most common terms used to describe millennials in the press (slackers, instant gratification, job jumpers, narcissistic, spoiled, disrespectful, and entitled) were the same terms used to describe baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) in a Life magazine article entitled: The Generation Gap, published in May of 1968! Apparently, every generation struggles with the next one.
So, what if you’ve been charged with relocating a Millennial? Here are a few things to provide that may make their journey (and ours!) more engaging:
Autonomy: Allow a millennial transferee to make their own decisions. They can get creative within existing spending constraints and policy guidelines. Lump Sum arrangements are popular but not the only ticket to their big adventure. Choice matters! Provide options but step back and let them decide on the best way to get from here to there.
Professional Growth: Make sure the assignment challenges specific aspects of their professional skill set. Talk to their manager so that you’re clear on what they should be able to do or know because of this new experience. Going back to that premise can help the assignee overcome the invariable hiccups inherent in any relocation.
The Big “Why”: Context is king; ensure there’s sound reasoning behind decisions and make certain you have your facts straight! That way, you won’t get caught unprepared by someone questioning your guidance. Millennials have been bombarded with advertising since birth and as “digital natives,” with access to all of the knowledge of mankind in the palm of their hands, they can fact check, compare, and gather outside opinions in an instant, making them somewhat skeptical about any promise or claim. Say what you mean and mean what you say, even if it’s really bad news.
Although these recommendations address millennials, wouldn’t we all enjoy the same consideration? Technology continues to remove once intractable barriers. Millennials understand this ongoing transformation better than most, but deep down they realize that automation will never replace the human touch. With every relocation, we must continue to be empathetic and calm under pressure, provide feedback and reassurance, and genuinely look out for the other person’s best interest. Having the heart of a servant never goes out of style. That approach works with every generation!