Managing the Mill-Aliens: The Bright Side
By Shlomo Maital
The Millennials (generation born between 1980 and 2000) were so named by Howe and Strauss, scholars who write about generation cohorts. If you re-arrange the last few letters, and drop an ‘n’, you get Mill-Aliens. For many of us in older generations, these young people are indeed aliens. Their values, behavior, and personality seem to utterly different from ours, as if they came from another planet.
Of course, every generation feels that way about the younger people. In the year 1254 someone wrote this: “The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them…”
I’ve just written an article for an Indian management journal about the “bright side” – the positive qualities that Mill-Aliens possess. In it I argue:
Here are eight ways in which Millennials bring positive qualities to organizations. These include: Their comfort with digital technology, their creativity and innovativeness, their embrace of the environment, their search for meaning rather than money, and their perpetual connection with their peers.
Let’s be honest. Gen X and the Boomers have left the Millennials with a planet in a huge mess. As one Millennial observed wryly, “Sorry our generation sucks, it’s not like we jacked up college tuition prices, destroyed the manufacturing industry, started two quagmire wars, gutted the union, destroyed the global economy, and left our offspring with an environmentally-devasted planet stripped of its natural resources – but we do text too much.”
To fully capitalize on the qualities Millennials bring, we in older generations have to open our minds and accelerate turning over leadership to them. The current trend toward later retirement is a negative one, in this sense. Let’s keep working – but let’s give the Millennials leadership roles. They can’t do any worse than we did.