Millennials in IT

Millennials in IT

Millennials Are Coming to IT. Are You Ready?

Much has been written about the Millennial generation, from Millennial values to Millennial-focused advertising to Millennials in the workplace. Born between 1980 and 2000, give or a take a few years depending on who’s defining generations, Millennials are now the largest living generation of Americans. They surpassed Generation Xers as the largest generation in the workplace in 2015. As more Baby Boomers retire and more Millennials enter the workforce, that number will only increase. And many Millennials are choosing the IT field for their careers.

There’s no question that Millennials are tech-savvy. They use technology to shop, valuing convenience and peer reviews over price. They tend to pursue a healthier lifestyle than older generations, using technology to track health and purchase healthier foods. They’ve given rise to the sharing economy. Instead of buying a car, they Uber. Instead of buying music, they use online streaming services.

In the workplace, including the IT sector, Millennials believe in collaboration. Because they were educated in a more collaborative learning environment, Millennials are comfortable working in teams. They recognize that collaboration enables you to do more and produce better outcomes. They use technology to support anytime, anywhere collaboration in real time, and they prefer texting, instant messaging and social media to email and phone calls.

Millennials expect to be heard, but they also want regular feedback. Of course, some might argue that “feedback” is code for praise and participation trophies. Millennials appreciate specific, clear direction. More than annual reviews, they want monthly or even weekly feedback from managers. They expect such sessions to be filled with interaction and brainstorming, not one-sided critiques. While Millennials will stay with an employer because of loyalty to the boss, dissatisfaction with the boss is the biggest reason why Millennials quit.

When it comes to doing their jobs, Millennials expect to be told the desired outcome and figure out the best way to achieve it. That’s how they grew up, using technology, the Internet and their personal and professional networks to solve problems. Millennials work hard, but don’t equate hard work with long hours in the office.

Millennials in IT should be managed differently than older generations. Managers need to forget stereotypes about spoiled kids with a sense of entitlement and simply recognize that Millennials learn and work differently.

IT is ideal for Millennials because IT is constantly evolving and requiring new solutions, which create the growth opportunities that Millennials crave. Embrace the desire and ability of Millennials to work collaboratively. Embrace their willingness to receive constant training and education. Embrace their preference to come up with the best solution to a problem on their own and empower them to do so.

Millennials, you must shoulder your share of the burden to be successful in IT. Collaborate, but prove you can complete a task and accomplish a goal on your own. Achieve something before you expect to be praised or promoted. You can work from home, but the occasional late night at the office will be required. Complaining about it only feeds inaccurate stereotypes. When you interact with your boss, bring your own ideas to the table, but respect the boss’ experience and realize you don’t have all the answers.

The role and influence of Millennials in IT will only increase during the next five years. IT organizations should adapt their management styles to take full advantage of the talents and contributions of the Millennial workforce, and recognize that a different approach could very well benefit the organization as a whole. 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