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Shifting through the generational noise is not necessarily easy, but it’s necessary.

There is a lot of clatter when it comes to generational “stereotypes”. One newscaster says one thing and then a press release says another. One pundit says “A” and then another says “B”, and in the process contradicting themselves.

So how do you sift through all the chatter about shifts in the workplace? And after the sifting, what do you do with the information? Here’s the question: What research should you use and how can it provide solutions that address your organizational challenges?

First and foremost, keep in mind the motive of the research. Some commentators have a predetermined intention of what the research will say. It is referred to as confirmation bias. Sometimes the research that is most helpful is not always what you want to hear but it can help you be successful and productive. When it comes to generational diversity in your organization, you need information that can demystify stereotypes and the threats they present.

Where do you look for solid research that is solution based–research that suggests why and where resources should be allocated?

Welcome to the 2nd Edition of Managing The Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce (Wiley, April 2016).

We started our multiyear research project with no agenda but to understand the phenomena that was taking place. We interviewed thousands of managers and Millennials in almost every sector of organizational life and commerce. We were interested in how the behaviors of Millennials were perceived by managers and the values that drive Millennial behavior.

In each business and organization, we asked Human Resource directors to choose three managers effective at working with twenty-somethings and three that were challenged. We did one-on-one interviews and then we conducted focus groups with all six.

All the managers in our study perceived Millennials in the same light but responded very differently in their management styles. Through observing the effective managers we discovered 9 competencies that were in line with the 9 orientations that transformed the tensions into productive relationships.

The results of the training are that managers and Millennials are capturing what their organizations are intending to deliver – deeper engagement and greater productivity. The book covers this in practical detail with case studies and best practices.

It is important to keep in mind that Millennial employees are different in several ways from employees of previous generations.

Consider the following:

  • How they consume content
  • The length of their attention span
  • Less inhibition to leave an employer
  • Looking for companies that align with their values

Here are 5 things your 21st century employees embrace:

  1. Professional development is a pathway to success. Numerous surveys highlight that the number one perk for Millennials is training and development. The slow climb up the corporate ladder is not a magnet for this generation.
  2. Doing work that matters is deeply important. The search for meaning in everything they do is a high value – including the work they do at your organization. Why does your company exist? How does it help others? Making this a part of your onboarding process will increase retention.
  3. Autonomy (with direction), is how we do our best work. Wearing suits and filling seats has been replaced with laptops and Internet connections. Millennials understand that business has gone from “cubical” to “global.” They don’t mind putting in the work to get results – no matter where they are, what they are wearing or what time it is.
  4. Too much information” is not too much. Millennials are information junkies. They inherently seek out answers. Their phrase is “I don’t know…YET!” The answer is just a search away. Along with this need for knowledge comes the demand for honesty and authenticity.
  5. Our ideas are not prisoners of your “rules.” They want to go further, faster, with less fatigue. Everything can be improved. Yes, there is a law of diminishing returns, but innovation is a must. To some it might come off as “breaking the rules”, but that can actually be good for business. It’s also shaping the way we do business tomorrow.

Do you want the full picture? Preorder the 2nd Edition of Managing The Millennials.

Here is what Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Leading at a Higher Level has to say:

“Managing the Millennials is a must-read for every leader who wants his or her organization to have a great future.”

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