ARC, Books, Professional Development

Book 403: What Millennials Want From Work – Jennifer J. Deal & Alec Levenson

Deal, Jennifer J. and Alec Levenson - What Millennials Wany From WorkLong story short, Millennials are just like everyone else so quit complaining about us! 😉

When I saw the title I knew I wanted to read it as I’ve been reading everything I can recently on management, the workplace and professional development topics that interest me. The publisher, McGraw-Hill Professional, kindly provided a pre-publication copy* and it will be available the first week of 2016.

Obviously, the ultimate lessons of the book are a bit more complicated than the opening of this post, but it really does boil down to something as simple as we’re all the same, just reacting to ever-changing technology, economy and society. It was reassuring to see this with well backed global research and written in an approachable and readable way.

I’m not sure why I wanted to read this other than the fact that I am a Millennial in the workforce. I’m no longer the “lone” Millennial in my office as I was in previous positions, but seeing the title I really wanted to see if my thoughts and opinions were an outlier, and spoiler alert: they’re not. And what was probably the most interesting thing to find out in the book as that as a group we’re not even outliers! We are just as inquisitive, demanding and over-achieving as every generation before us, we’re just trying to find ways to do things better, faster and with more excitement, creativity and accessible technology than previous generations.

“…many generalizations about Millennials are promoted by pundits, consultants, and even some researchers—generalizations based mostly on anecdotes and not on real and rigorous data. Just as important, even when the conclusions reached by others are based on data, they typically focus on only one or two factors, not the complete package of who Millennials are and what they want.” (3)

The global reach of this book was astounding, they had so many respondents and so many interviews that they were able to make broader assumptions about Millennials backing it up with data. It was interesting to see how similar so many of us are across the globe and yet how there is always a unique outlier or cultural influence which gives each group a different perspective.

One of the funniest facts I found was the debunking of the “Millennials over using technology” myth. I’ve complained about this before in my personal and professional life, I’m looking at you dad and step-mom ;), but it was interesting to see it laid out statistically

“People from older generations are more likely to use e-mail and, in fact, use e-mail more often than face-to-face communication or even talking on the phone.” (109)

It’s funny that although I’m not the only Millennial in the office I am the youngest by three-to-four years, but I’m one of, if not the first one to say, “Well have you called them?” to EVERYONE in the office from my fellow Millennials to the top management. That being said there are times I just really-really-Really-REALLY don’t want to pick up the phone, but I will force myself to do it.

“So, hard as it may be, the best way to be a good manager to your team is to be constantly on the lookout for ways to improve.” (131)

As a whole, all of these books that I’ve read for my Professional Development “project”/improvement have taught me how to eventually be a good manager. I’ve learned qualities that I have that will need to be tamed down and those that will need to be beefed up. I’ve been able to find excellent qualities in every manager I’ve ever had and at the same time things that they could learn to brush up on, especially when dealing with out-spoken Millennials. Mostly, I’m just glad I’m already on the path this book suggests you take in order to be a good manager as stated above.

Recommendation: If you are an HR professional, a manager or even a Millennial hoping to be a manager some day, you should read this. I mean I would hope you already know large chunks of this, but it was great to see it laid out in such a well flowing structure and I’d say 85-90% of their advice was helpful and didn’t irritate me in a “too much feel-good/touchy-feely” sort of way. (And that has more to do with me being a standoff-ish oaf than a Millennial ;-D)

*This book was provided by the publisher and I received no compensation in return for an honest response.

Opening Line: “We are all fascinated by intergenerational differences—and probably no more so than in Millennials.”

Closing Line: “While intergenerational differences in life and career stage create many managerial headaches, the more solutions you can find that work for the largest number of employees and the organization, the better off everyone will be . . . including you!” (Not whited out as this is a work of nonfiction.)

Additional Quotes from What Millennials Want From Work**
“Listening to their views, what is also clear is the corrosive impact the current organizational practices have on them: many report the frustration of working long hours in tasks that seem unconnected to the mission of the organization, others the heavy weight of bureaucracy on their shoulders, and some speak of being bullied at work.” (viii)

“Rather than perceiving themselves as being hired just to do a job, Millennials want to contribute to the organization as much as possible, even beyond the specific requirements of the job. They feel they should be speaking up and sharing their ideas, not only because it benefits them but also because it benefits the organization. And that is how they behave.” (33)

“But their willingness and dedication disappear rapidly when they catch the first scent of mismanagement. If you use their time inefficiently, if you make them come into the office at odd hours simply to be seen and make them wait for others to engage them, if you bother them at home in the middle of the night or expect them to respond to the most mundane and unimportant queries on e-mail or text during their free time, you will quickly shut down their discretionary effort.” (39)

“One way Millennials demonstrate their independence is through their desire to control their work lives and careers. Though they might want coaching and mentoring, Millennials don’t want to be told what to do and don’t like being expected to execute like automatons. Following the path established decades ago by the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials don’t see themselves as cogs in a giant machine; they see themselves as people who will shape their world to be what they want it to be.” (58)

“Millennials feel like they have little or no control over their careers, and they want more control than they feel they currently have. Managers can help improve employees’ feelings of control by providing more latitude for their employees to chose how and where work is done, by providing more information about why individuals are selected to do specific work, and by helping employees understand how their current work fits into their career plans more broadly.” (59)

“Leaders and managers sometimes forget that employees willingly follow the people they respect, think are honest, and feel treat them fairly.” (61)

“And even if the organization is addressing the supervisor’s bad behavior behind the scenes, Millennials care about how they are being treated more than they do about organizational initiatives that may address the problem eventually. When the bad behavior continues, it reflects poorly on the entire organization and its leaders.” (62)

“One likely reason they don’t think they’re getting enough development is lack of time. Though they have access to development, a majority of Millennials say they don’t have enough time to engage in development the way they need to. A number we spoke with said they weren’t given adequate time to really think about and assimilate what they were learning (which is related to our earlier discussion about overload). They felt much of the learning was simply washing over them rather than being integrated into their work.” (151)

“Don’t discount the benefits of small changes. While they may seem less meaningful to leaders, if they remove sources of boredom and frustration, the benefits in terms of increased engagement and job satisfaction can be quite high.” (181)

“Stress is recognized as a significant global issue. People everywhere are stressed, and a large portion of the stress is about work.” (210)

“Second, unattached Millennials will resent having to do more of the work simply because their colleagues with families have other obligations outside work. Even single people have interests outside work that they feel strongly about. So taking away their ability to enjoy their out-of-work pursuits simply because you’re trying to support their coworkers who have families runs the risk of driving them away. If you take the time and effort to design and implement options that work for your organization and all Millennials—attached or otherwise—you will be rewarded for not taking the easy road.” (213)

**Page numbers are subject to change as this was an uncorrected proof and not the final print edition.


6 thoughts on “Book 403: What Millennials Want From Work – Jennifer J. Deal & Alec Levenson”

  1. I always considered Millennials to be people who experienced their adolescence in the 00’s. I really would not have considered myself one at all, but it looks like I’m on the very early edge. Not sure how I feel about this realization…

    I like that bit about technology as well. I think a lot of people look at their youth through rose-coloured glasses and over-exaggerate the problems that technology can have on people today (everyone was dancing and hugging strangers at the bus stop when I was young, now everyone’s face is in their phone and they never make eye contact). I used to do general tech support, and older generations really don’t get how dependant they’ve become on various technologies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s very weird what they consider Millennials. I’ve always felt sort of early even though I’m not, but that’s because I grew up in the south and the world moved at a slower pace. It really was interesting to read that it’s the same problems every generation has faced just with new names.


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