Events /11.09.2016

You Raised Us, Now Work With Us – A Digest


A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity. ~ Dalai Lama

Following is a digest of three salient insights and accompanying suggestions from Lauren Stiller Rikleen’s recent talk on her book, You Raised Us – Now Work With Us. Note that these insights are based on “patterns and trends in research” and are not intended as generational stereotypes.

(1) Generations Show Respect Differently. Boomers tend to measure respect by deference. For Millennials, respect means having a voice in terms of their observations and how the workplace can be improved. That is how they were raised. Millennials grew up with a consultative approach between parent and child. In the workplace, insights offered by junior employees can be off-putting and perceived as disrespectful by senior employees. Both sides are well intentioned, but there is miscommunication on what respect means and how to display it.

Recommendation: Open Lines of Communication. Millennials are looking for transparency in the workplace. They are accustomed to having a voice in decisions and therefore have an expectation that their opinions matter. “Workplaces that, as a talent management strategy, open lines of communication and develop more transparent practices will be well-situated for developing future leaders.”[1]

“Millennials are constrained to walk in a path that may not make a lot of sense in today’s world.”

(2) Millennials Lack Career Navigation Skills. At the same time that Millennials expect to have a voice, they fear failure to a debilitating extent. Millennials do not fully appreciate that failure is necessary for growth, or that it will be viewed as a learning experience by senior employees. For Millennials, parents stepped in and solved problems for them in an unprecedented way. While the parents meant to protect their children, an unintended consequence is that Millennials did not have the benefit of developing resiliency. Now, in the workplace, this emerges as uncertainty in navigating office relationships and politics. For a Millennial employee, every conversation in the office can feel like the potential for disaster.

Recommendation: Offer Millennial Coaching. Lauren advises that organizations should provide coaching to help Millennials learn to take risks and adjust to uncertainty in the workplace. She also recommends integrating the culture and politics of an organization into employee orientation. Research shows that when Millennials feel more confident in their career navigation skills, they are more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to remain with their current employer.[2]

“If you can’t retain Millennial employees then you have to seriously question the viability of your business.”

(3) We All Want the Same Things. Millennials were raised to ask questions, think critically, and approach their lives with confidence, though they are not empowered to do so in the workplace. Parents, now senior professionals, are the ones who instilled these values and created these “monsters.” In the workplace, these values emerge as wanting feedback, transparency, flexibility, and an organizational commitment to community involvement. Can senior employees honestly say that they don’t want that, too?

Recommendation: Leadership Needs to Commit. Millennials are loyal to people, not organizations. Organizations need their leadership teams to commit to a multigenerational workforce. If leadership sees Millennial integration as a grassroots movement, it is not going to work.

[1] Rikleen, Lauren Stiller. You Raised Us – Now Work with Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams. Chicago, IL: ABA, American Bar Association, 2014. p.214.
[2] Id. at 217-18.

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