Don’t Throw Away the Meat: Learning to Communicate with Millennials

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By Shannon I. Andrews

Senior Marketing Coordinator, Curtis 1000 Inc.

One day a husband was watching his wife prepare dinner for the family. During his observation, he noticed that she cut off a portion of the pot roast and threw it in the trash can. “Why did you do that?” asked the husband. “Because that’s how my mom did it,” she explained. The husband investigated further by contacting various other family members until he discovered that it was originally done because the pans used to be too small.

Though this story may seem a bit far-fetched, this scenario occurs on a regular basis. When we do anything with the mindset of, “That’s the way it has always been done,” we are throwing away that big chunk of meat. This way of thinking can be disastrous in the workplace, especially in terms of communication, because we are missing out on opportunities that can benefit the organization. Any grade school English teacher will agree that before writing anything, the author must know their audience. The way we write to capture the attention of one group of individuals is different from the way we would for another.

In today’s workforce, the Millennial generation is dominating nearly 50% of all career fields worldwide with 38% of them being women. This group of individuals, born between 1981 and 1997, are often perceived as the tech-savvy, world-owes-me-something generation. However, Millennials want to know that the people they come in contact with have their best interests at heart, value their opinion, do not look down on them, and want more than just their business, but an actual relationship.

  • Millennials’ preferred method of communication ranks from texting (being the most preferred), then email, social media, face-to-face, and phone calls (least preferred).
  • Information has to be straightforward and highlight how it will benefit them or the goals they are attempting to accomplish. In addition, they desire feedback that is joined with guidance as to how to improve their performance.
  • Millennials have a willingness to learn, are flexible with multi-tasking, view their job as more than a paycheck but an extension of who they are, and are untethered to “adult” responsibilities leaving them with the ability to travel, work flexible hours, and relocate with minimal notice.
  • About 75% of Millennial women believe that men are still favored more in the workplace and that there is a need for change to achieve gender equality so being made to feel like an equal is important.

In the marketing arena, this means that engagement strategies alone are insufficient.

  • Detailed game plans for goals that are trying to be accomplished are helpful for this group.
  • They also desire options that showcase creativity and innovation.

“Millennials are not locked into limited, linear patterns of thinking about industry issues or challenges,” says Amy Lynch, co-author of The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace. “Young employees construct solutions the way the web works, using creative networks and associations.” Developing an entrepreneurial atmosphere that strays from group-think appeals to their desire to take greater risks, think outside the box, and break away from the traditional ways of doing things. Industry leaders need to tailor their ways of thinking to appeal to the Millennials.

As this group continues to assert itself in the workplace, it is important that we learn to adjust our forms of communication to connect with their needs and what is important to them. This does not mean that we completely discount the needs of one audience and only cater to the new audience. Our responsibility is to discover ways to bridge the gap when communicating to both audiences.

Both Baby Boomers and Millennials share a similar professional mindset. Think about it: some of the Baby Boomers raised the Millennials and instilled in them the values and work ethics that they possess today, shared Meghan Casserly in her Forbes article, Millennials and Baby Boomers: At Odds or Peas in a Pod. Boomers played a vital role in molding and shaping the way Millennials think and behave.

Both groups:

  • Are optimistic and believe that they can change the world
  • Value reliability and dependability in their relationships

Learning to communicate with Millennials is about personally making a decision to be open-minded and do what may feel uncomfortable. Pot roast is more expensive nowadays, and we cannot afford to waste it. By preparing it the way we did when pans were smaller, we miss out on an opportunity to enjoy a feast. Let’s change the way we did things in the past and work towards developing a deeper connect with the group that is shaping our future.

 

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