Humans born between the years 1978-1996 are termed “Millennials” just as the humans born between 1965-1977 are labeled Gen Xers and those of us born between 1946 and 1964 are called Baby Boomers. Yes, the labels and their subsequent personality traits do make a difference in the group’s view of work, leisure, learning, and living. Every generation is formed by six values:

  • Family
  • Education
  • Morality
  • Peers
  • Spirituality
  • Culture

Think about which of the list above had the largest impact on you. Why is that true?

Millennials have been shaped by 9/11, terrorism, Columbine, social media explosion and information doubling at space-age speed. 9/11 took Pearl Harbor (which shaped previous generations) and brought it HOME. Columbine warned this generation that nowhere was safe. Insecurity marks this generation.

This is the first generation in the history of the world that does not depend on an authority to dispense information or education. This generation (those 18-36) are largely self-taught but highly nurtured as children. *

Some comments that typically describe this age group in work-related settings include:

  • Unpredictable
  • Not committed
  • No work ethic
  • Self-centered
  • No respect for authority

How does this relate to PACES PAideia or classical education or leadership? Most of the staff and parents in our organization are Millennials.

Observing and understanding the characteristics and behaviors can enable us to work together and communicate more effectively.

When another parent in a study group questions the leader of the group about how to organize and plan for the group, the questioning parent is being a Millennial. Millennials ask for “why” and expect logical answers to questions that Baby Boomers might consider disrespectful.

Are Millennials just rude? NO! Their parents tended to be the “helicopter” parents, always nurturing. This was the first generation to grow up without a “belt” as a incentive to “do the right thing.”**

A more nurturing family, a higher education, an information filled culture leads to a life of open-ended options.

Millennials do not like to “close the door” on ideas, thus they tend to move from one idea, program, church, neighborhood, job to another. This action frustrates the Boomers who believe that the Millennials are not “growing roots” but constantly moving.

Both generations have been formed by their culture and both need to learn the strengths of the other. As Romans 12 reminds us, “we are all part of ONE body.” Our goal in dealing with Millennials, and all age groups, should be to seek to understand them—and then to be understood.

Who are you working with from another age group? Can you identify some different worldview and ways of thinking that might make you stronger as a team instead of frustrated as cohorts?

Want to read more on the Millennials–Managing the Millennials by Chris Espinoza, Mick Ukleja, Craig Rusch

*As in all sociological reports what true for the group is NEVER true for every individual. However, while it is difficult for us to depict how an individual will respond or perform it is generally less difficult for us to predict how the entire group will perform. Think of voting predictions: we can predict how Texas will vote in the upcoming presidential election, though each Texan is a mystery.

** Home schooled Millennials are another group that break this mold!


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