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Millennials dispel 5 myths about their generation

Lauren Brousell | June 23, 2014
Everyone is obsessed with millennials -- hiring them, managing them, understanding them. But what to do millennials think about how they are perceived? Staff writer Lauren Brousell (a member of Gen Y herself) recently moderated a panel packed with millennials at CIO Perspectives and sets the record straight.

Millennials may be hopping around to more jobs in their first 10 years than other generations, but we've had a jump start in one area: technology. Our generation is the first group of digital natives in the workforce but if we don't share our knowledge wisely, our technological aptitude could be seen as a sense of entitlement.

Sackett, who led the development of Hanover Research's first technology product, a predictive analytics tool for school districts, echoes this idea, saying that his familiarity with technology does give him an edge as a leader but he needs to share it with those around him.

"[Technology] is part of my vernacular and something I live and breathe every day," he said. "But it's also something I need to externalize and get other stakeholders to feel comfortable with it. It comes down to being mindful. If you don't take time to reflect, it will come off as arrogance, but if you are mindful, the conversation changes."

Tighe said part of the issue of why other generations hold this perception is that although we are masters with technology, we can also be very impatient and we have an expectation that things will work easily and instantly. "If we can't figure it out quickly, we will put it down," he said.

Myth 3: We have a constant need for feedback and we want a back-and-forth dialogue all the time. If we don't get that, we might assume we're not doing a good job or that we're not liked.

Our managers might be irritated by this and view it as a call for attention. Traditionally, companies were set up to do performance reviews once or twice a year and feedback through formal channels and many still operate this way.

"If the only touch point is every six or 12 months, that's insufficient," Sackett said. "It can be informal as coffee or sitting down to talk. It's not the format that matters, but the frequency."

Horton said she understands that feedback sometimes can't always be on-demand, but can be retrieved through a strategic approach. She reports directly to Georgetown's CIO, Lisa Davis, and knows when she prefers a text message over an email, for example, or when to wait for their weekly 30-minute meeting.

Horton agreed with Sackett that feedback should be provided on a more regular basis, if possible. "If you've done something well, that learning is amplified if provided in the moment," she said. "A lot of value is lost if it's not an ongoing conversation."

Myth 4: We are self-promotional. Marketing ourselves, establishing a personal brand and having social media presence are important to us.

Dedicating time to our online brands and social media presence could be seen as being self-absorbed or that we're bragging about ourselves and our accomplishments. But each panelist said he or she has found value in spending time on social media and creating their own identities so they can connect with others.


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