The Millennial Mindset: What we can learn from the new working generation

I was asked these questions in a week when I had been lecturing a group of Millennials at a Business School in Johannesburg. I have had the joy of interacting with this exquisite generation for years and reading about their preferences and so I was able to ask them face to face to help answer questions about the style and preferences.

  1. How do millennials differ from older generations, particularly in the workplace?

Millennials are assertive, if confident. They want expression and need to be invited to flavour and influence the environment even if they are not yet an ‘elder’ or are still to gain the status of ‘manager’. They are likely to move from company to company unless they are constantly stimulated in their current environment. Their perspective on loyalty is different, they will be loyal if the company is appreciating and investing in them.  

  1. How does their approach to business differ?

Millennials are innovative and want to explore fresh and exciting ways of doing things. They see leadership as a dialogue and not a monologue. They believe that leaders should not be isolated from the work force and they don’t want to forget where they have come from when they find themselves higher up the corporate and political ladder one day.

  1. How can we learn to work with and collaborate with the new working generation?

Don’t judge by the external – dress, age or social status. Lean in and get close to them. Work with them in a consultative and collaborative way.

  1. Please list five things we can learn from millennials in the
    workplace. This could include their approach to social media, how they market themselves or their attitude towards work. It's up to you! This is the crux of the article so please include some detail.

Written in the first person as these were the answers given to me

  1. Respect me – we are dealing with racism and sexism, but what about ageism? I would love to respect you, but my respect for you is founded in the way you respect me and others. Treat us with dignity.
  2. Learn from me – be inquisitive. Yes, I haven’t been in the workplace as long as you and still need to acquire a lot of knowledge, wisdom and skills; however my perspective is still valuable to the whole picture. Please give me a voice.
  3. Open minded – please be open to new, different and innovative ways of doing things
  4. Adapt to change and technology – Apps, Social Media, Technology and change are here to stay. Let’s not fight it but ride the wave of momentum that it brings. There are new railway tracks that have been laid, the information highway, let’s use it to communicate our personal brand, corporate brand and interface with our dynamic world.
  5. Engage us – don’t avoid us or isolate yourself from us. Come chill and hang with us in the canteen and interact with me.
  6. Be fair, be reasonable – please don’t take advantage of me because you are older or hold higher rank. Please don’t play the age or hierarchical card. Care for me, don’t take advantage of me, and appreciate me.

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