Know the Common Traits of Millennials to Manage More Effectively

By Hannah L. Ubl, Lisa X. Walden, Debra Arbit

The Millennial generation, just like Boomers and Xers, has a long list of traits associated with them. If you are managing individual or a group of millennials, you will want to associate yourself with their most common traits. In the nature of KISS (keep it simple, stupid), these are the traits most commonly associated with the generation born between 1980 and 1995.

Millennials are collaborative

Millennials grew up with “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’” posters in every classroom and teachers encouraging a group mentality to do great work. Social networking fostered informal group gatherings.

  • How it manifests: Open workspaces, whiteboard walls, brainstorming sessions, working together in one room even if they’re working on different things, regular check-ins, and valuing team goals and team decisions over those of individuals.
  • How others view it negatively: Other generations can view Millennials as needy, uncomfortable working independently (or unable to do so), constantly distracted, or unfocused.

Millennials are tech savvy

Millennials can’t remember a time without technological influence. Even if their computer or video game hours were limited, they still had time dictated by how many hours they could spend with a screen. They were the first generation to use the Internet when it went social and the first to get cellphones, and later smartphones, in their youth.

  • How it manifests: Striving to use the latest digital devices; seeking tech solutions to streamline work; finding more comfort in text or instant message communication than the phone; and demanding upgrades in their work lives and personal lives, whether in the form of promotion, workspace, or process and procedure.
  • How others view it negatively: Other generations can view Millennials as distracted, Facebook-obsessed, or unable to have a face-to-face conversation. They can also be intimidated by Millennials’ forceful request to use tech platforms that make other generations feel isolated, archaic, or uncomfortable.

Millennials are adaptable

Technology upgrades serve(d) as a catalyst for change. Since Millennials’ whole world growing up was constantly changing, they learned to be malleable with any future shift. To Millennials, change and disruption — in a broad sense — are critical to success.

  • How it manifests: When change occurs at work, they are the most comfortable. In fact, most times, they embrace it or seek to make it happen themselves. In the social world, they are progressive like any young generation before them and fight for progressive societal changes.
  • How others view it negatively: They have no loyalty to structure or tradition if they can so easily adapt to a new environment. Adapting is good, but demanding that others adapt at the same pace is not.