The GenX’s are Afraid, Very Afraid. . . .
I hate to admit this, but I am technically a Baby Boomer. The last year of the Baby Boomer generation mind you, but a Baby Boomer none-the-less. I know, for those who know me, it’s hard to believe because: (1) I look so incredibly young (LOL); (2) I am so hip (look, I blog, I tweet, I just bought the current generation Android phone with the curves on the side) and (3) I left my Wall Street job to follow my real passion, Event Planning. So you can imagine my surprise when everyone is writing us off (ie: the Baby Boomers) as retired and done and moving the discussion to how to manage Millennials (yes that’s right, they have skipped how to manage GenX). At approximately 77 million, the Millennial generation in the US is three times the size of GenX!
So, as a “technically” older adult trying to run a company, it is critically important to understand this vast generation including what they want, how they want it delivered and how to manage this smart, entrepreneurial group.
First some facts about Millennials that I found written by John Egan of Leads Council in January 2015 ahead of the LeadsCon Las Vegas Conference:
-Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000.
-Millennials make up roughly one-quarter of the US population, numbering approximately 77 million (Nielson).
-Approximately 25% of Millennials speak another language other than English at home (US Census Bureau).
-Millennials, although relatively young by my standards, yield approximately $1.3 trillion in annual buying power (Boston Consulting Group).
-US Millennials touch their smart phones an average of 45 times per day (SDL). Nike, Apple, Samsung, Sony and Walmart (really?) are the top five favorite brands of millennials (Moosylvania).
-Approximately 1/3 of older millennials (26-33) have earned at least an undergraduate college degree. This makes this generation the most educated group of young people in US History (Pew Research Center).
-Five out of six millennials in the US will connect with companies through forms of social media (SDL).
Reiva Lesonsky, a writer for Small Business Trends, writes about how Millennials have a new definition of what it means to be an entrepreneur. She mentions in her article entitled, “Millennials are Rewriting the Rules of Work and Entrepreneurship,” that for Millennials, being an entrepreneur is a mindset, and doesn’t mean starting your own company. She writes that the mentality of that mindset includes being a “self-starter, a risk-taker, a visionary, and someone who spots opportunity.”
Millennials want to build an entrepreneurial career. They want work flexibility, they like many assignments and tasks where they can continue to grow and learn. They dislike the thought of “climbing the corporate ladder.”
I thought this was interesting. I picked up the Wall Street Journal last week and found an article by Kevin Clark talking about the St. Louis Rams football team hiring a consultant/coach to help the coaches understand how to coach the young people on their team. The Rams have the youngest team in the NFL with an average roster age of 24.1. Clark wrote that: “Like most workplaces, the Rams were inundated with employees whose habits were vastly different from those of their bosses.” As the Rams coach, Jeff Fisher put it, “Our players learn better with two phones and music going and with an iPad on the side, he said. “That’s new.”
They brought in a group of academic consultants and provided the rookies with a standardized test. The results of the tests were interesting. Because of their exposure to technology, the millennials are very savvy. They have a relatively short attention span. The millennials need to understand “why” they are doing something. For example, if a coach tells them something on the field, they need to know the concept behind it. This forced age-old professional coaches to reexamine their coaching methods. Finally, they learned that Millennials like to share everything through social media. The Rams made some changes to incorporate what they found. They stopped making the team spend hours in the classroom and moved to shorter meetings followed by going to the field to execute on what they were just shown. This is so interesting.Of course, Millennials are not only football players. How can we learn to work effectively with them in the general workforce?
I attended my first Charlotte NACE meeting (The National Association for Catering and Events) last week. Vinny Esposito (Split Second Sound) provided an overview of the presentation given by Lindsay Pollak at the national NACE Experience Conference on Millennials. I found the facts in the presentation absolutely fascinating. Here are a few points that Ms. Pollak made in her presentation:
86% of parents of Millennials don’t believe that their children will have a better life.
50% will return to live with mom and dad at some point in their lifetime. This is why this generation is referred to as the Boomerang Generation, given their propensity to move back in with their parents. Millennials will change jobs an average of nine times during their lifetimes.
They are going to college and the jobs that they have when they get out may not even exist yet.
Millennials like to focus on the “effort” they made rather than the “results.” This is a generalization of course, but this goes back to the Trophy culture, of rewarding Millennials for playing two minutes in the soccer game. You know, giving kids metals for doing nothing.
They love to work in groups.
They enjoy collaboration. As a result, many struggle with self-reliance.
They are very visual and very detail oriented.
They want an explanation for everything.
They want a flexible schedule. As long as the work is getting done, they believe they should be able to have flexibility.
Millennials require a road map.
They struggle to take responsibility.
They obtain their identity through social media.
They are uncertain what their future’s hold.
What does all this mean for event planners?
Millennials make up a large group of the population getting married. If you are trying to obtain their business, you better understand how they operate in the world. Millennials believe that they deserve the best. They don’t want to hear what services you provide. They want to understand how you will make their event special. What will you do to differentiate their event and make it the “best.”
You better understand social media. Millennials don’t like to answer the phone. They text, tweet, blog etc. They want to work with people that are technically savvy. And while it might have seemed rude in the past to answer someone via text, it now is the way to get the fastest response from a Millennial.
If you work with a Millennial, you want to understand that they require lots of feedback, feedback and more feedback. They would love a flexible schedule and they want to move up quickly. How do you manage this? It’s difficult, but not impossible. Understanding where this group comes from, and their uncertainty about what their future holds might be the first step in moving forward.
So this old Baby Boomer is moving out of the way. I am still kicking and screaming non-the-less!