It seems to always happen this way: a new generation enters adulthood and the generations ahead of them sound off. As a Gen-Xer I remember it well, we were seen as lazy and disengaged compared to the Baby Boomers before us. The Boomers had already played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement, brought us Woodstock, and were dedicated to working nine to five--and us young bucks had yet to prove ourselves. Over time these false opinions gave way to reality, and we settled into the workforce.
However, lately I've felt like history is repeating itself. Everywhere I look there's another article blasting the Millennial generation. They've been called everything from the "trophy" generation, for needing special and on-going recognition, to the "tech-obsessed" generation, apparently being concerned more with technology than work. I think it's time we stop bashing this generation and recognize that many of the things they're criticized for are actually their best assets.
As a father of two capable, ambitious Millennials and the CEO of a Millennial-heavy organization, I've spent my fair share of time with members of this generation. From my experience they are a naturally creative and hardworking group, dedicated to making an impact with their work. They can troubleshoot a computer faster than most anyone I know and can come up with clever marketing campaigns in a matter of minutes.
While some complain that they are digitally obsessed, I like to think of them as digitally native. Millennials, unlike any previous generation, innately consider technology as a tool to help them learn and improve their productivity. They keep their finger on the pulse of new technology and are always the first to adopt the latest programs. Some of the most interesting tech advancements have come from Millennials, and having more digital natives in the workplace will only challenge us to push the limits in innovation and ingenuity.
Instead of seeing this transition to a multi-generational workplace as a negative situation, think about all the different capabilities and unique skill-sets that our young counterparts bring to the table. Their fresh sets of eyes, combined with our years of experience, can produce unexpected and impressive results.
Welcoming the new generation with an open mind gives Gen-Xers like myself, and Baby Boomers, the opportunity to hone our mentoring skills while working productively with this new segment of the workforce.