Being a millennial and first-time attendee of the NICSA General Membership Meeting, it was interesting to see a focus on the impact and challenges that the millennial generation will have on the workplace. This whole time I thought we were the perfect generation and no one had anything to worry about.
OK, so we talk in 140 characters or less, can’t make change if the cash register goes down, and share (often too many) details of our lives online. So the thought of millennials someday leading the firms and industries that baby boomers and Gen X have worked so hard to create may sound scary.
At the conference, I saw a tight knit group of professionals, with strong relationships and in-depth knowledge built over years of working together on complex industry issues. Yet, only a few millennials were in attendance. Clearly the baby boomers and Gen X value the conference, the sharing of best practices, and the networking opportunities. But keep in mind that by 2025, 70% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials.
So, how can you feel better about the future?
If you’re a baby boomer or Gen X, bring a millennial co-worker to the next industry event and introduce him or her to your peers. Millennials, more so than any other generation, are wired to connect, share, and explore. If we are not connected through this community, we’ll find other ways to interact and exchange ideas. Don’t let us lose out on the value of hearing your stories and connecting with you.
Millennials are highly resourceful and independent, so when it comes to fact finding or putting together puzzle pieces, we’ve got that: Google. We’re more interested in hearing stories. Start with your story. How has NICSA helped your career or your firm? Millennials may learn in small bites, but we love personal, meaningful stories. Why do you think we share so much online? Don’t teach us just the technical business skills; we want to learn the soft skills too. We want to hear how you took the firm from point A to point B.
Be honest, especially when it comes to your failures. We’re a generation that is ok with failure. We won’t judge. In fact, we’ll respect you more for the failures you’ve had, the mistakes you’ve made, and how you’ve adapted. We admire leaders and innovators who succeed by never giving up on their dream. It’s why Steve Jobs’ story resonates so much with us.
Someday this “crazy” bunch of kids will lead the industry. Now is your chance to work with them to carry on what you’ve worked so hard to create. We’re up for the challenge. Give us responsibility, let us share our voice, and provide us with leadership opportunities. By bringing us into your community, you’ll play a meaningful role in shaping the future of the industry and tomorrow’s leaders.