Memorandum:From: A woman in Human Resources at a small nonprofit organization
To: Jessica Kriegel
Subject: Dealing with millennials
Jessica—I heard that you are studying generational issues. We are having an HR staff meeting in a couple weeks and were hoping you might join us. This organization is run by baby boomers who struggle to understand the new crop of millennial employees. We are experiencing a high attrition rate of those millennial employees as a result. Would you please come and speak to our group about how to deal with them effectively?
I understood her problem; this is a common concern in my field. I see many human resource (HR) professionals who are casting about in the sea of popular and scholarly literature looking for guidance on how to deal effectively with perceived generational differences. A few weeks later, I was in her conference room preparing for our workshop. A woman was setting up granola bars and fruit in the corner, while I looked for the projector cable. I was nervous—not so much about speaking in public but more about the reaction I anticipated from my controversial opening demonstration. Either I was going to make everything perfectly clear to them, or I was going to be asked to leave the premises. The woman who had emailed me walked in with a big smile and welcomed me with a handshake and a business card.
After introductions, I began the exercise that I hoped would clarify my subject. I asked ...