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Emerging adulthood: The two most important words in hiring and parenting

emerging-adulthood

Here’s an excerpt from my latest column in the Huffington Post:

A couple years ago, the senior staff to one of the top leaders of the Department of Defense asked me for the most important advice I could give them for attracting and retaining Millennials. I gave them two words: emerging adulthood.

Millennials make up 70 percent of their workforce, and most of them are going through a new life stage called emerging adulthood, which begins at 18 and ends around 27 years of age. It comes after adolescence and before early adulthood.

I told them that at least a few of their staff needed to become experts in this new life stage because half of what the older generations complain about Millennials are actually characteristics of this new life stage, rather than negative traits that Millennials will carry throughout their lives. But if they don’t sort out the life stage from the generational characteristics, they’ll watch their commanders drive the Millennials out of the military and never understand why.

I have thousands of conversations each year with people from older generations who are frustrated with the Millennials. A few of the most common complaints:

  • They can’t look me in the eye, because they’re glued to their phones.
  • Loyalty means nothing to them.
  • They don’t know how to be respectful.
  • They’re completely naïve about what organizations have to do to function.
  • If their ideas aren’t implemented, they get bored and mentally check out.
  • They want everything handed to them. But what can you expect from a generation who grew up getting “participation trophies” in their sports?

Half of these are characteristics of emerging adulthood and not characteristics of any one generation, but most people have never heard of it so they don’t know which is which. In my speeches, I often ask the audience to raise their hands if they’ve heard of emerging adulthood. Maybe 2 percent of the hands go up.

This generational ignorance leads to a host of problems at work and home….

Read my entire column here.

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What exactly IS your adult child’s job?

Back to school

At AARP.com, Mary W. Quigley authored an article on Bring In Your Parents Day, in which she featured some of my comments. Here is an excerpt:

A LinkedIn survey found that 35 percent of parents are not completely familiar with what their children do for a living, and 50 percent thought they could offer suggestions if they understood the job better….

If you go to your child’s office, does it make you look like a helicopter parent? Actually, it makes you look like an involved parent, says consultant Haydn Shaw, and companies know that “parents have a big impact on hiring and retention.”

In some ways, the day is the adult version of back-to-school night. Parents get to see the desk, the workplace, the coworkers and the supervisors — and put a face to the name when their kids complain or compliment a colleague or boss. “You definitely can pick up a vibe about the people and the place when you’re there,” says Shaw, author of Sticking Points, about the multigenerational workplace.

Maybe most important, he says, is that the event can signal a step forward in the parent-adult child relationship….

Read the entire article here.

[Photo via lareinabruja.com]

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Steak or waffles? Overcoming the sticking point of work ethic

waffle

With four generations in the workplace, there are vastly different definitions of what it means to have a good work ethic. Don’t avoid the tensions; get your team talking about these questions:

  • Does it matter how many hours you work if you get your work done?
  • Do you have to come in to the office, or can you work from someplace else?

Awkward silence might follow at first, but that’s okay. It’s important for teams to spend some time understanding the generational differences around work ethic by finding the common need – and that need is fairness and balance. No one wants to feel cheated or taken advantage of, and everyone wants more balance in life. Unless older generations understand the reasons why GenXers and Millennials view work ethic differently, they’ll continue seeing them as “slackers.” In the same way, the younger generations must seek to understand Traditionalists and Boomers by learning about the world in which they grew up.

Think of work like a meal: the older two generations see work as the steak and everything else in life as the side dishes. The younger two generations see life as more of a waffle, where work is one quadrant and everything else makes up the other three squares. (So please, boss, keep your work syrup off the other three squares of my waffle.)
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