by Lexi Kubrak | shared from MonsterThinking.com
The perceived shortcomings of Millennials are well documented: were know-it-alls, arrogant, pushy, and want to get hired higher up the ladder than the bottom rung we deserve.
Theres a perception that social media is the silver bullet for reaching Gen Y candidates and consumers, but paradoxically, these online networks seem to be the launching pad for perpetuating these myths and stereotypes.
In fact, Ive seen a few recent blog posts, Twitter chats, webinars, etc. that look more like Soviet-era propaganda than then true dialogues or debates, all aimed at solving the Gen Y problem; were apparently up there with the recession and recreational drug use on the list of societal plagues, at least if you believe the blogs.
But the real problem seems to be that older generations really dont know how to react to the fact that, well, theyre getting to be the older generations.
They seem to forget that from the time the automobile took over the horse and buggy to the protests of the sixties to the go-go materialism and egotism of the eighties, theres always been a resistance to change, and one thats almost always unfairly assigned to those darned kids.
But change is inevitable, and resistance, as they say, is futile. Because what are often perceived as our shortcomings are, in fact, significant assets: ease of technological adoption, innovative thinking, and the ability to constantly connect, communicate and multitask.
So, whats behind the disconnect between Gen Y perceptions and realities? To quote Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof (using a reference Boomers should be familiar with) Ill tell you in one word: tradition.
As the title of the ubiquitous business text Built to Last suggests, the best brands historically pride themselves on legacy and continuity, spending as much time proudly pointing to their past as they do looking into the future.
But this tendency seems to also ignore the present reality: that Gen Y is transforming business norms from being driven by brands to being driven by peers. Call them connections, contacts, friends or fans, word-of-mouth matters most.
Yelp reviews, Facebook likes, FourSquare check-ins and Twitter mentions form the basis of our opinions, and purchasing decisions, more than any Super Bowl ad or traditional marketing campaign ever could (or will).
While companies are figuring out messaging through market research, were doing our own simply by participating in the social conversation.
So, while Boomers might still mostly run the C-Suite, the days of business as usual are becoming increasingly numbered. Its not that traditional organizations dont sense this seismic shift; the problem is, many are attempting to jump into a medium they dont understand, targeting a population they view as a problem rather than an opportunity.
But maybe, just maybe, its not Gen Y thats the problem. Maybe, instead, the Gen Y problem stems from having a closed mind and steadfast belief that experience matters more than potential.
Which is literally their loss: a loss of billions of dollars in untapped revenue, a loss of brand cache and perception, and a loss of being able to build the emerging talent of today into the leaders of tomorrow.
All this is really too bad, because by embracing Millennials and the unique talents and attributes we bring to the table, businesses really have everything to gain.
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Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials)
by Jim Collins
Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?”
Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the 21st century and beyond.
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