Millennials—also known as Generation Y and comprised of anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000s—make up about one-fourth of the U.S. population (that’s about 80 million people) and have a combined buying power of $1.3 trillion.
Particularly for marketers, millennials simply can’t be ignored. They have an impact on everything from advertising trends to buying decisions, mainly because this new generation of consumers is collectively defined by a set of traits and characteristics that seem to be spot-on. Countless researchers have studied the habits of millennials to find that they are first and foremost digital natives, spending about 25 hours per week online and owning multiple mobile devices such as smartphones and laptops.
According to Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends, millennials are also typically educated, collaborative, more ethnically and racially diverse than older generations, and identify themselves as liberal Democrats. They’re also less likely to purchase real estate due to extenuating circumstances that include the ripple effect of the Great Recession and subsequent underemployment. They’re living with their parents longer and prefer the freedom of renting over home ownership.
However, does this mean that you won’t come across a millennial who’s politically conservative, driven to snag the corner office, and pays a mortgage? Logic tells us that not every millennial will fit into the same mold, and while it’s fine to take this generation’s collective “personality” into consideration, there is also merit in taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.
Patrick Lencioni, bestselling author of The Ideal Team Player, challenges us to view millennials as individual human beings—not as a generational force of nature—in order to best bring them into the fold of an increasingly team-focused workforce. “There is a better way of thinking about hiring good people than focusing on a person’s generational stereotypes,” Lencioni says in his recent “Enough About Millennials” LinkedIn post.
Redefining Teamwork for the Millennial Generation
Lencioni points to three key factors that define an ideal team player: humility, hunger, and people smarts. Humble people tend to ask more questions, take a greater interest in others, and listen intently. Professionals who naturally exhibit “hunger” are the true embodiment of self-motivation and drive. And individuals with “people smarts” pick up on social cues and understand how to navigate group dynamics.
While these traits may not fall into the category of what typically characterizes a millennial, Lencioni says anyone can develop and apply them in the workplace. Regardless of generational delineations, we all have the ability to enhance our positive qualities and make a lasting contribution to our professions, communities, and the world at large.
What’s your view on how millennials contribute to today’s workforce? Share your thoughts in the comments below and don't forget to check out The Ideal Team Player.
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