I always thought I would be able figure out each new generation that entered the US work force. Starting with Gen X and each new tech savvy group that followed, I looked at the "newbies" as they became part of America's next great era: the Information Age. I marveled at how easy these folks embraced technology and were unafraid to innovate, create jobs and really contribute to the US economy. I have to admit, however, I am a bit worried about this new generation called the Millennials.
I've had some recent experience interviewing Millennials that made me wonder. Some were really polished and understood the importance of making a great first impression. However, a majority have squandered their opportunity with reckless abandon.
Some of my observations:
First, some disclosure. I entered the workforce in the mid-80's during a time when the flow of information was controlled by newspapers, magazines, cable/TV, the telephone company and the post office. Instant messaging was unheard of... The best we could muster back then was to fax a message and hopefully someone at the other end would receive it, read it, and fax back a reply. Texting/E-mailing came in the form of writing/typing out a memo, putting this together with other hard-copy info, sticking it in an envelope, driving to a post office and putting it in the mail. 7 to 10 business days later, hopefully a reply. Next day Air or FedEx UPS was an option but only for those willing to spend a lot of money.
The pace of business proceeded differently back then.... There was time between these "information salvos" for employees to develop people skills. We all learned how to be successful from those around and above us and if you were lucky, had a mentor to show you the ropes and give you "Pearls of Wisdom" on how to survive.
As we have become more efficient with our time, technology has replaced admin support. The modern worker has had to develop different skills to survive. Unfortunately, people skills have suffered. Mentoring has declined as well. It is entirely possible for someone to work for years at a company and never physically meet the boss who rates their performance! I applaud Marissa Mayer at Yahoo for bringing her employees back to a real work environment....
So... my point is this. When it comes to business, relationships still matter! Social Media is amazing but can you really get a sense of who someone is by an internet profile and a few text messages? There is still no replacement for meeting with someone in person, engaging in one-on-one conversation and giving them your undivided attention. The nuances of reading body language and really getting to know someone face-to-face are invaluable skills that I hope Millennials will come to understand as essential to their success.
And for those willing to learn, contact me! I stand by ready to mentor!