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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.

  Can Gen Y (Why?) Save the World?

By Shlomo  Maital     


 Gen Y is the cohort of people, twenty-somethings,  born roughly between 1980 and 1994.  They were preceded by Gen X (1966-80), the boomers  (1946-1965) and my generation Gen Baby Bust (born in the Depression and WWII). 

  There are very big differences in values across the generations, as scholars like Neil Howe and the late William Strauss (U.S.) and Tamar and Oz Almog (Haifa Univ., Israel) have found.  It’s not just because we older folks forget what it was like to be young, either.  Gen Y has the most names of any generation so far, and the names are revealing:  the Millenials, Internet Gen, Global Gen, Boomerang Gen (they come home to their parents after college), Gen Me (they are narcissistic), Peter Pan Gen (they don’t want to grow up), Gen Now (they live in the present), Gen F (Facebook).  

    The Almog’s will soon publish an 800-page study of Israeli Gen Y’s.  Their main findings, which seem to translate to other countries, because Gen Y is highly global:

* Narcissistic:  Oxford English Dictionary chooses a ‘hit’ word each year. This year’s word: Selfy.  Perfect.  A selfy, for Gen Old, is photographing yourself with a cell phone camera.  Gen Y’s do it all the time, instead of seeking autographs. 

  * Lack resilience: Gen X and the boomers hover over Gen Y, as ‘helicopter parents’, so Gen Y rarely have to engage in tough struggles. 

  * Lack testosterone:  The Almogs note that Gen Y is far less eager to go to war than Gen X; they are less driven by testosterone.  Perhaps in future we will have fewer conflicts as a result. Gen Y is also less nationalistic, less patriotic, more global.  This is true of the large Gen Y population in Arab countries as well.

*  Footloose:  Gen Y will not stick at a job they dislike.  Employers are beginning to adapt to this.  Gen Y will not sacrifice family for work, and give loyalty to themselves, not their employers. 

*  Connected: Gen Y do not make decisions on their own. They are permanently connected with others, and can quickly consult with parents, friends, peers, before deciding anything. 

*  Collective:  Gen Y are collective, almost socialist.  They like working in groups and are good at it.  Competitive capitalism will have to change to adapt to this. For example,  Gen Y in Israel is returning to the kibbutz to live.

* Unisex:  Gender differences are far smaller among Gen Y.  There is far more gender equality among them.  For some Gen Y women, this may be a problem (“I can’t find a REAL man!”, said one). 

 * Gen Why?   Gen Y questions everything.  They do not swallow whole the values of Gen X. 

   There is much hope for the future.  The Great Generation, born in the ‘20s, fought and sacrificed for freedom.   The boomers and Gen X ruined our planet.  The Almogs believe Gen Y may be another Great Generation; they may save our planet, because they care about it.      

Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital