• Scott Span


    I agree that these traits are not related to any particular generation, but rather, are indicative of a person’s place in their career, however they are also influenced by a persons generational cohort as well as other factors. I believe all generations have a need for recognition, they just prefer to hear and see it in different ways. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your viewpoint, those traits are not myths. I’ve seen that study, as well as the one by Pew and several others. Millennials need to be challenged, they don’t expect to wait 30 years for a promotion, and they won’t tolerate hierarchy over performance when it comes to rewards and recognition. This, coupled with their need for frequent open and honest feedback – so that they can meet the challenges and gain the skills needed for success rapidly – tend to perpetuate the negative stereotypes. As these things are still genuine desired needs of the generation, I don’t see them as myths. As a Gen Y cusper myself, who does generational work – http://goo.gl/fUQSz – and leads cross generational teams, to you point on attracting talent, I find the key is to acknowledge the stereotypes and the facts from the multiple generations, and to increase engagement and performance via increasing cross generational communication and awareness and developing customized strategies.

  • NucleusResearchHP

    Young workers want to be continuously challenged and want to know why their work is meaningful. This hasn’t changed over the past couple of generations. There have always been “young guns” who bulldoze over people, get on the fast track, and get promoted quickly. Young employees want rewards commensurate with results.

    However, in previous generations, there was more of a social contract that by “doing the right thing”, you’d get ahead. Because that doesn’t exist now, the most important change with this current generation of workers is continuously showing how these employees’ efforts align both with business goals and their own personal goals. Newer employees don’t expect job security any more, but in return, they want an integrated life; job tasks that are interesting and fit within their life as a whole.

    • Tim Ryan

      NuclueasResearchHP –

      Your point about the social contract makes sense but I’m not convinced that it was much different for GenX. Perhaps for Baby Boomers?

      Our 19 year old summer intern recently wrote a thoughtful post suggesting that the generational differences were age-based more than anything else:


      Having now worked with many GenY’ers and thinking about myself 20 years ago, I can’t help but agree with her. The fundamentals are consistent like a desire for positive reinforcement by way of recognition for doing good work. Moreover, regardless of age many of us have strong values that have been consistent throughout our lives. Wanting to work for a company, or even a project, that aligns with our own values doesn’t seem like a stretch for any generation.

      Great conversation.

      Tim Ryan


  • Allie Tetreault

    Great article, and thanks for pointing to the myths about the millennial generation. We’re asking for the same things other generations have been asking for in a job. We may be louder than them (or simply larger), but that doesn’t mean that every generation wouldn’t mind to love their job, find meaning in their work and be reminded of their contributions. The workplace should be a place where all generations can get along.

    I recently wrote a guide, “Managing Millennials: How the New Generation is Changing the Workplace,” that goes more in depth with these ideas, with statistics and studies to back up the claims. Please check it out! http://www.agsalesworks.com/managing-mentoring-millennials-generation-guide/#.UgJwjUSbS_w.twitter

  • PaigeHolden

    Great article, Derek. I’ve also enjoyed reading the comments here. I, too, find all of the negativity around Millennials exhausting and counter-productive. I wrote an EBook on the topic a while ago and, in my exploration, I found a couple nuggets that dovetail nicely into the myths you have identified.

    I think the Millennial “entitlement” phenomenon is blown way out of context. We all joke about Millennials who eye the corner office from day one. But, whether this is realistic or not, I think they we just are creating a vision to drive our work
    ethic. So many of have been told from a very young age that can be anything they want to be, as long as we work for it. Schools, colleges, sports teams, etc. have designed programs around setting and achieving goals, including quick wins, to pave the way towards larger milestones. Looking at it another way, I think Millennials are just setting their sights on a grand vision (and looking to management for help on setting the appropriate goal markers to get there), but I don’t think the actual time frame matters as much as perception would imply.

    In regards to feedback, I think it’s a good thing that Millennials want open communication. A lot of people misconstrue this as coddling, but all that does is bring negativity to the workplace. I prefer to view this as a positive change.
    Millennials are open to guidance and constructive criticism regarding
    performance. Since they don’t have much (or any) corporate experience, this is
    the perfect way for managers to teach protocol and procedures. Astute managers
    will also be able to pick up on any discontent or problems before they get out
    of hand. This is critical for retention.Honestly, isn’t it better to fix a problem when it happens rather than wait for the next review period?

    Just my .02. Thanks for the great post!