There’s a record turnout at this years CUES Symposium (did you expect any different? I mean it’s hosted in the most gorgeous location ever: Maui, Hawaii). This morning we are all gathered together to discuss a topic at the forefront of every CEO’s mind – millennials. You’ve probably heard this term more times than you care to count, but we are still talking about it because we haven’t yet really addressed any of the challenges we associate with them. Today’s speaker, Jamie Notter, author of “When Millennials Take Over”, has devoted his life to researching generations and finding out what makes them tick. His bottom line is simple: we need to move the conversation away from complaining about millennials and move towards curiosity.
With every new generation that comes along there is the previous one who feels as if the new guys are going to ruin the world, in fact you can find some variation of the phrase “not respecting elders” going back before any of our great, great grandparents were alive. Simply put, millennials are not going to ruin the world. Millennials have a lot to bring to the table, but in order to get the most out of them it’s important to understand the way they think and what influences the way they make decisions. Once you do that, then you will be able to engage millennial employees who will help you reach levels that you didn’t even know were possible. Jamie addressed a few of the major complaints people have about millennials and turned them into an explanation of how we can make the seemingly negative into a positive for our organizations.
Compliant #1: They want a raise and a promotion – all the time!
Explanation: Do you remember a time before Google? When you couldn’t just type in a question and get an answer in the blink of an eye? Millennials don’t. They’ve grown up with instant access to information. If they don’t know how to do something they can watch a video and learn within minutes. They are constantly looking for a new challenge. Giving millennials the opportunity to problem solve and find creative solutions to challenges you are facing makes use of their skills and gives you a fresh perspective. Millennials thrive in an environment that consistently pushes them to do more.
Complaint #2: They don’t understand what “budget” means.
Explanation: Millennials grew up in a world of unparalleled abundance. A statistic mentioned that Americans spend more on trash bags than 90% of the world spends on all other goods….just to throw away things we don’t want. Self-storage units: we’ve built an entire industry that is just to hold belongings that don’t fit into our houses. They assume that they will have access to resources and equipment they need to do their job. Millennials are the largest generation; they represent the largest workforce and the largest potential member and consumer base. Their needs echo what your members expect. Now, we aren’t saying indulge every request they make – but hear them out. New equipment could help them do their job better and more efficiently, increasing productivity and the bottom line.
Complaint #3: They don’t understand hierarchy.
Explanation: They know what hierarchy is and they do respect it; the difference is that they expect to have access to every chain of the hierarchy at any given time. When millennials were growing up their parents elevated their importance. They spent time talking to children even when surrounded by adult friends and conversations between adults centered around children so for them the idea of going to those who are higher up than them is normal. Further more, this is a generation whose parents took their ideas into consideration – there’s much less of the phrase “Because I said so” going around now. Millennials have always been able to have an influence on those around them. They don’t necessarily expect things to always go their way; they simply expect the opportunity to have their idea heard.
As millennials become a larger part of the conversation at your credit union, I challenge you to think of how their unique skills and mindset can propel your organization forward into the 21st century. I’ll leave you with a final thought: “Where there is diversity, there is innovation.”