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Working with Millennials: Communication (with Tess Lalor)

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Posted by Jim Emmerling

Apr 21, 2017 11:27:53 AM

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A NOTE FROM JIM EMMERLING, PRESIDENT OF EM-MEDIA:

Over the past few years, EM-Media has become significantly younger. We’ve went from being Baby Boomer heavy to almost half of our team being made up of Millennials. There is a lot of talk out there about Millennials–more so than I remember about any other generation. I think it stems from the cultural shift that happened around the time they came on the scene. They were the first generation raised in an age of electronics, video games, and social media, and that changed the way they see the world.


I think a lot of people complain about them without completely understanding them or having never actually worked with them. And to be sure, this Millennial generation is different. Some of it is good, some of it challenges me, but no matter what you think of them, they are here to stay and the first taste of the generations that will come after them.


With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to do a short series of blogs talking about a Millennial workforce from the mouths of Millennials at different stages of their careers. Our first conversation comes from Tess Lalor, a junior at Penn State Behrend, and just beginning to think about her future beyond her education.


Enjoy, and feel free to comment on social media, share the post, and find ways to expand the conversation.

Sometimes I feel like there is a barrier when I speak to my Millenials. My generation, I think, approaches critique and criticism differently. And I wonder if there is a different expectation toward praise. Am I far off?

Well, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of articles written discussing how to communicate with Millennials. Our desire for structure, feedback, and diversity must make us seem elusive or something. But I think the stereotypes that we’re unable to focus and require constant praise is unfounded and untrue. We want to be spoken to like any other colleague, with respect and clarity. Praise is not necessary for completing simple tasks, and we do want to be made aware of any mistakes made in order to help meet goals and expectations.


So, what is the one thing that Gen Xers and Baby Boomers should know about talking to Millennials?

The worst thing you could do is patronize us. Our formative years were shrouded by ideas that success was hard or impossible to obtain. We’re still struggling to carry the weight of a recession we did not cause and are tired of hearing that we’re lazy because of it. Obtaining employment is a job within itself, and while we are striving to complete the hardest assignment of our lives just so we can start actual professional assignments, we would rather not be met with scorn. We’re not lazy. We’re just not willing to settle.


How do you think technology, social media, and other cultural factors has impacted the Millennial view of what it means to be professional?

We’re no different than any other generation when it comes to a desire for professionalism. The integration of social media into our daily life means we have a lot of experience in the do’s and don’ts of communication long before we enter the workforce. Most of us, I don’t think, want to talk with our employers through messages on Twitter or Instagram. So while we are able to leverage those platforms to help you reach a target audience, most of us don’t rely on them for business inquiries.

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In my opinion, email is the best way to communicate indirectly while at work. Most Millennials  do prefer written messages over phone calls because we find the former to be more convenient. But, we’re also able to easily adapt our attitudes to fit best with our workplace environments.


You mentioned the recession and recovering markets. What do you think is the general outlook for the future by the average Millennial?

Despite some obvious obstacles, our generation is optimistic about the future. We aim for more inclusive workplaces with less discrimination based on factors like gender, race, and sexuality. We want to be judged by the quality of what we create and the passion we have for our work rather than the way we talk which is a huge frustration for me. Every generation has their own esoteric vocabulary. Millennials just happen to be more influenced by internet culture which is less formal.


To that point, I personally desire to live in a world where business interactions feel less stern and forced, and where I care more about what will hurt the least amount of people than what will make the most money. I want more work towards social equality of all people and ways to combat and reverse environmental problems such as global warming. I think millennials are much more driven by blending their personal values and social causes than past generations.


What do you think the most important thing to a Millennial is concerning their professional life?

Well, I’m only one of the millions of millennials living in the United States. My views may differ from other 20-37 year olds, but regardless of those differing opinions, I think we aren’t really that different from other people. We want to be treated with decency and respect. Our professional attitudes and communication skills are not a result of our youth, but by a desire for a more open, authentic, and collaborative work environment and a bright, successful future.