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You knew it was bound to happen. We're now in the blogosphere. Please take a minute and see what we have to say...and add your two cents.

We're in the early stages still, but with your help, we'll make the Contented Cow Blog a helpful forum for folks to talk about what makes great leaders, and great places to work.

By Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette

Has a twentysomething-year-old at work recently left you scratching your head and wondering "Were we born on the same planet?"

If so, don't stop reading.

We'd like to devote this, and next month's issue of Fresh Milk to that latest in a long line of new generations to join the workforce - what many are calling Generation Y, or the millennials. Rather than argue about exactly which years these folks were born in, let's agree that we're talking about workers from their teens to early thirties.

Our perspective on this group comes not only from our longtime and current study of the workplace, but also from the fact that each of us is the father of two of these creatures. We've seen millennials at work, and at home, just like many of you have. A lot has been said, and written, about this group. Here's what we'd like to add to the discussion.

Can the labels
Let's use labels for shipping packages, not generalizing about people. Whether it be "conservative/liberal", "female/male", "anti-this or pro-that" or whatever, we suspect you're getting as weary as we are of having a comprehensive set of descriptors ascribed to you, based on membership in a particular group. Look around at the people you know, who were born within five years of you. How alike are you? How different? The same goes for millennials. No, they're not all overindulged whiners; they're not all great with computers; and they don't all have short attention spans. Some are, in fact, capable of loyalty, working long hours, seeing a project through to completion, and even holding a conversation without once saying "and I was like. . . and she was like. . . and it was like. . ."

My nineteen year-old resents being lumped into something called the "MySpace Generation". "Sure, I do MySpace, but like, who wants to be defined by some stupid website?" she said.

Open your eyes
Don't ignore reality. There are differences between most millennials and most boomers, and we deny those differences at our peril. As the war for talent rages on, millennials are our source, the raw materials of the workplace. If our competitors figure out how to get the most from this bright, energetic group of workers, and we don't, it's pretty easy to figure out who wins.

For starters, if we want to communicate better with the younger generation, we'd better pay attention to whatever electronic device they've got in their hand, on their hip, or in their ears at the moment. Don't be afraid to "text" them, or to be "texted". (If you didn't know "text" was a verb, get help. And get your thumbs ready.) Learn electronic shorthand. Don't expect a message that reads "I look forward to meeting with you and Robert in your office in fifteen minutes. Thank you." Instead, expect something like "meet u n bob n yurz n 15".

Podcast your quarterly financial results, your sales meetings, your corporate newsletter! And here's another one - get your CEO to record, as mp3's, regular messages to the workforce, communicating the organization's mission (the real mission, not the PR mumbo-jumbo); how workers can be instrumental in achieving the mission; and what they can expect when they do. Put them on a secure intranet site, for download to iPods and other mp3 players. They'll listen to them - they really will - while commuting, or working out at the gym.

I'm not my job
Most young people today are less defined by their jobs than we boomers have been. As they get older, that may change. Who knows? But for now, that's how it is. And good for them! Be prepared to have greater and greater difficulty finding young workers willing to sell their souls for the benefit of your enterprise. Tamara Erickson, in her book Workforce Crisis relates a story of speaking with the boomer CFO of a large company who complained to her, "I can't find anyone willing to work 60 hours a week," to which she replied, "What they're telling you is that they're sorry it takes you so long to get your work done."

And another thing. Most of today's new workers have no intention of staying with your organization forever. Or even a substantial portion thereof. It's nothing personal. Get used to it. And deal with it. By getting all the Discretionary Effort (or Oomph! as we call it) from them for as long as they choose to stay employed with you.

As another of our kids once said, "Dad, I'm not married to my job. We're just dating!"

We've got more to say on the subject of the millennial generation, but we'll save the rest for next month. In the meantime, here's an assignment for you, especially for those of you whose baby pictures are in black and white. Right now (or as soon as you're back at work), find somebody under the age of 32 or so, and ask them, "What's the one thing about people my age that drives you craziest?"

And we'd love to hear your answers. Email us at We may not be able to reply, but we'd still love to hear what you learn. We'll share some of the best responses next month.

Ttfn, as they say. Bbnm. (Be back next month)

Our good friend and fellow speaker Susan Friedmann, CSP, has written a new book. "Riches in Niches: How to Make it BIG in a small Market", is written for the service professional, the entrepreneur, the small business owner, and anyone who wants to learn how to position and transform themselves and their business/practice from one of a million to one of a kind!

It's a comprehensive guide that shows you exactly how to stand out in a crowded marketplace. If you've been looking for 'giant-killer' strategies, Riches in Niches is where to find them.

For more details about the book, go to

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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