“In four years, Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—will account for nearly half the employees in the world,” stated Jeanne Meister, co-author of The 2020 Workplace, How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, published in May 2010.
What constitutes a Millennial, besides the age range?
The more grown up Millennials watched bulky PCs transform into sleek laptops and iPads, while cell phones that resembled walkie talkies evolved into flip phones, and finally smartphones that fit neatly into their back pockets. The youngsters grew up playing on their parents’ smart phones, practicing on similar devices until they could get their own products in the near future.
Six years after The 2020 Workplace was published, managers and business owners are still trying to figure out how to smoothly transition Millennials into the workplace.
The Construction Association of America (CMAA) National Conference and Trade Show, held in October in San Diego, CA, featured several seminars on how to do just that.
During the CMAA seminar—DOT Programs and the Next Generation’s Challenge—Kevin Oberheim, PE, CCM; Jeff Thatcher, PE, CCM; and Dave Ferrara, CCM, spoke about the importance of embracing and understanding Millennials.
The objectives of the seminar were to:
- Discuss the challenges of integrating Millennials as both owner and CM
- Discuss what owners are expecting their young CMs to deliver and how CMAA/CII Best Management
- Practices help bridge the experience gap
- Recognize the unique abilities the Millennial generation can bring to the CM workforce
- Discuss the importance of mentoring and guiding the transition between generations
Thatcher started the discussion by asking attendees to throw out some words or phrases to describe Millennials.
The crowd chimed in with less than complimentary adjectives such as “immature” and “self-absorbed.”
“It’s important to be aware of generational tension—loosely defined as a lack of respect for someone who’s of a different generation from you—among colleagues. It’s your job to help your employees recognize that they each have distinct sets of skills and different things they bring to the table,” The 2020 Workplace co-author, Meister, also stated.
So, why are tech-savvy Millennials an important part of the workplace, despite generational tensions?
- Technology is driving the way that we construct our projects
- Lean construction
- Mobile devices and apps
- GPS and autonomous controls
- Integrated assets
How do we bridge the gap between the generations and work together? The presenters gave the following tips on how seasoned veterans can encourage and optimize Millennials’ potential in and out of the workplace:
- Yearly evaluations, including employee goals
- Well-defined career path
- Education and ongoing training – CMAA/CII is a great resource
- Mentoring – matching a Millennial with a Boomer to form two-way relationship
- Decision-making pushed down to the lowest levels
- Join local, state and national committees
- Project management – sink or swim time
The CM speakers also gave tips to Millennials who are new on the job and looking to make a good impression:
- Relationships are the key to a successful project
- Respect is the key to a successful relationship
- You get what you give
- Know what you’re not
- Know when to ask for help
- Always have a suggestion
In Entrepreneur magazine, author Todd Berger suggests 7 Ways to Bridge the Boomer-Millennial Gap. Berger encourages managers to create teams, activities, goals, and reverse mentoring programs that bring people of all ages together in the workplace.
For employers who are looking to bring Millennials onto their teams, here are some ways to interest the younger generation in their companies, via DOT Programs and the Next Generation’s Challenge:
- High school job fairs
- Competitive wages
- Opportunity to advance – creating a future
- Communicate needs – both ways
For more information on The CMAA National Conference and Trade Show, visit nationalconference.cmaanet.org.
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