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Author Shares Keys to Working With Millennials 10/23/18  10/22/18 11:56:38 PM Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly Version

Lauren Stiller Rikleen keeps her audience on their toes during her morning
and afternoon sessions. (Photo by Lorraine Boyd)

Author Shares Keys to Working With Millennials

By Lorraine Boyd
The Daily Record

Are you a Baby Boomer? A Gen-Xer? A Millennial?
No matter which era you claim, communication between generations will require some level of effort on all sides to communicate.
Communication is key to building a diverse and inclusive environment
for all, especially now that the Baby Boomers are beginning to pass the torch in their law firms to Gen-Xers, who are hiring more and more Millennials to round out their practices.
Participants at the Nebraska State Bar Association Annual Meeting were able to spend three hours with Lauren Stiller Rikleen, founder of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership.
She is a former law firm partner, mediator, and a leader in professional
and community organizations.
She is a former president of the Boston Bar Association and has served in many capacities for the American Bar Association.
The morning session examined the characteristics of each generation and how stereotypes can interfere with the efforts of legal employers to successfully integrate their multi-generational team. As author of “You Raised Us – Now Work With Us: Millennials, Career Success and Building Strong Workplace Teams,” Rikleen offered solutions to bridge the gap.
Baby Boomers encompass 71 million workers today. The much-smaller next generation, Gen-X make up 41 million, which led to the Millennials.
They are the current wave of workers who also number 71 million.
Each generation brings a unique perspective to its work expectations. The audience seemed likely to represent all of those, as well as those even younger than Millenials.
Millennials, defined by events like school shootings and terrorism, are realistic, pragmatic and optimistic.
They experience wide diversity, but not necessarily inclusion.
Stereotypes prevent our seeing the burdens of other generations,” Rikleen said. “We’ve learned that student loans weigh them down. Research reveals a desire for more leisure time. Work-life data is globally
consistent, with Millennials now prioritizing family when making work decisions. They are loyal … to the people, not necessarily the organization.”
She also noted that “entitlement” is a misnomer for them.
“They were raised to be more self-confident,” Rikleen said, “with a modicum of humility and modesty. They are the first global generation.”
She said their use of email is declining; they prefer “real-time alternatives.”
Rikleen revealed a list of Millennials ideals of personality traits of true leaders: empathy, strategic thinking, inspiration, strong interpersonal skills, vision, passion and decisiveness. Traits they didn’t like: Being driven by financial results and an autocratic approach.
When they look for work, they factor in growth opportunities; salary, benefits and job-security; work-life balance; skill development and interesting work. Their top reasons to leave a job: better financial opportunity;
career progress; alignment with passions and, once again, work-life balance.
“Life outside work is more important to their identity,” she said. “There’s a changing role of fathers in the workplace.”
Millennials have confidence in their work, but they often lack career navigation skills. Building a strong network of people is important for them.
By 2020, 50 percent of the global workforce will be Millennials. The trick for employers is retention. Research shows the same forces are at work for “Post-Millennials.” – only more so, she said.
The real story of these groups is in the mental health data. They are dealing with self-inflicted and socially-prescribed perfectionism.
Strategies for moving forward are necessary and purposeful: engage leaders; view training and development as a retention tool and provide a culture of engagement.
The communication challenges warrant a comprehensive approach: reverse mentoring programs can be successful; use the power of feedback (Don’t wait until an annual review, give feedback often); recognize the important, yet distinct roles of mentorship, sponsorship and coaching; implement work-life integration strategies; consider organizational strategies to combat implicit biases; increase transparence and accept changing views of hierarchy.
Rikleen stressed that lawyers and law firms need to develop strategies to strengthen multi-generational relationships and provide ways to foster the development and retention of a new generation of lawyers whose success will be a critical component of the legal profession’s sustainability.
“And remember, all generations have similar goals,” she said.
The afternoon session built on those principals in a workshop where participants were given scenarios and asked to come up with solutions. The discussions were rich because all three generations were included.
“I wish you all success in implementing these strategies,” she said.

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