Who are Millenials ?

Social scientists have given various age brackets to identify “Millenials”. It is broadly agreed that all those born between 1980s and 2000 would belong to this group. This is a social cohort with specific behavioural characteristics. While there is a lot of talk on the concept of dealing with multiple generations in organizations today, it has been so even in the past. The only difference could be in the radical behavioural shift of this cohort as compared to the past.

The first distinguishing characteristic of Millenials is that they are very clear in what they want to do in life. They are confident and ambitious and define their own path. They are not worried about what society thinks of them. They can deviate from time tested paths and carve a road of their own choice. This makes them difficult to understand as a cohort as individual behaviours may not necessarily reflect the behaviour of the group as a whole.

The second unique characteristic of this group is that they are technologically savvy. The mobile phone is ubiquitous in their lives. They easily adapt to technology and make the best use of it. Sometimes you do get a feeling whether technology determines their behaviour or they manage technology that way. They are well versed in technology and know how to use it to their best advantage.

The third nature of this cohort is they are restless. While being impatient for results may be a good idea, it may make them demotivated very fast. For eg., if they post something on social media and do not get many likes within minutes of their post, they get disappointed easily. This impacts their work and their life. They want to achieve success in half the time of their seniors. While it is good to be ambitious, it may be necessary to be patient for results.

The fourth quality of the Millennials is they have a lot of ideas. If their ideas are channelised and they are guided properly, they can achieve results much faster than their older generations. I have always felt energised in the company of these people. They challenge you all the time but are also willing to be challenged in every way. We need to have a participative style of leadership to deal with them.

The last quality which I admire most in this group is their ability to take risks. In my class in college, hardly one or two students would venture out to start a business after completing our professional education. In this generation, more than one third of the class wants to start something of their own. They are willing to work hard, put forth their ideas and are not afraid of failure. On the contrary, many of us do not have the guts to do that even today.

As in the photo above, this duo is full of energy and they only are looking to channelise the same to bring out their best always.

I have enjoyed every moment I have spent with this generation. It is not right to imagine that they have arrived from a different planet and behave differently. It is true their goals and aspirations are different. They have clear goals, willing to take risks, adapt to technology faster and are impatient for results. If we are willing to channelise their ideas and create a supportive environment, they are bound to succeed.

It is up to us to learn from them and lead them into a brighter future.

S Ramesh Shankar

Generation Gap

  All of us grow up in age. But, do we necessarily grow up in life. May be not. I am reminded of an incident, which happened in my life almost two decades back. In India, we have a tradition that when we visit our family or friends during a festival, we buy gifts for them. I was visiting my sister in Delhi to be with her family for Diwali. I decided to go and buy clothes for my sister’s family. So, I went out to the nearest market with my brother in law and my nephew to buy clothes for them. I finished all the purchases. The only one left was for my nephew, who was a teenager. We went up and down many shops. If I chose a blue striped shirt, my nephew would reject it and if he chose a red shirt, I would reject. This happened a few times and then I and my brother in law got fed up. So, I told my nephew that my budget for his gift was Rs 500 and he could take it and buy it himself later. He politely agreed but turned around wanted to share some thing with me. I nodded. He said, if you don’t mind uncle, why don’t you accept that there is a generation gap between us ( myself and his father) and him. Our interests need not necessarily match with his interests. If blue striped shirt was our choice, he could prefer a bright red one and there was nothing wrong. This hit me hard like a slap on my face. I realised that I did not recognise the gap in our generations and I was steadfastly imposing my views on them.

  This was a turning point in my life. I was used to choose clothes for my kids too. But from then on, I only allocated a budget, which I could afford and then let them decide for themselves. In my view, this a good lesson to grow up in life. It may happen to us at home and at work.

   If I look at the work life, I can share another interesting incident. This time I was learning to respect the wishes and interests of a generation older than me. I was posted in a factory and my room was facing a beautiful garden. I decided to turn my table and put my chair in a such a way that I could admire the greenery of the garden. My seniors ( CEO & CFO) came to my room and personally lifted the table and chair and put it back in its original direction. When I told them that I was keen in admiring the garden, they told me that as per Vaastu( Indian science for architecture) that was not ok. As far as possible managers and leaders should face the north while sitting in office and hence I cannot change the direction of my table and chair since it would face south. I was not a great believer of Vaastu at that stage of my career, but I respected the belief of my seniors and reluctantly accepted their advice. Today, if Ilook back I realize there is science in Vaastu and hence may be they had reasons for their choices.

   My learning from both the above incidents is that we have to respect the views of all generations and have the humility to accept that their view could be different than yours. It could be from a generation younger than you or older than you. That does not matter. What matters is our ability to respect the views of all generations and our magnanimity to accept and adopt it. Of course, we could agree to disagree also.

   It is time to realise that we could learn from all generations and the earlier we realise it the faster we grow up in life.

  S Ramesh Shankar