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You got the millennial generation wrong

Millennials prove they are much more diverse in their career aspirations and desire for work-life balance.

We’re all familiar with the stereotype: Millennials think they should win leadership positions long before they’ve earned it. “They haven’t paid their dues like we did,” is the common refrain.

It turns out Millennials are a much more varied group, and while they care deeply about work-life balance, they aren’t against putting in the time and enduring the stress required to get ahead.

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You got us wrong

Attaining a leadership position is indeed a goal for most Millennials. On average 40 percent say becoming a manager/leader is “very important.” In Africa in particular, 84% percent say this is true. And overall, nearly 70 percent say it’s either important or very important. This doesn’t surprise us very much.

What did surprise us, however, was the wide diversity of answers about why attaining a leadership position is important. High future earnings stands out as the most dominant theme globally (35 percent chose it across the globe), yet the range was quite wide. Half of respondents from Central&Eastern Europe chose high future earnings as a reason, while only 17 percent of Africans chose the response. African Millennials care most about opportunities to coach and mentor others (46 percent), a response that scored quite low in other regions (15 percent chose it in the APAC countries, and 23 percent chose it in Central/Eastern Europe and the Middle East). Another interesting point of difference: The opportunity to influence a company/organization was chosen by nearly half of those in Central/Eastern Europe, and 41 percent of those in North America; the same response was chosen by only a quarter of those in APAC countries and the Middle East.

These points of difference matter tremendously for talent managers making decisions about recruiting, onboarding, leadership and development. What’s more, it’s interesting to note what Millennials really don’t care much about. Issues like status and leadership scored remarkably low across the board. Perhaps most expected, Millennials largely don’t feel they require increased access to information … probably because this generation already has unprecedented access to information.

The importance of titles is also a point of disagreement among Millennials. In Africa a third of respondents say titles are very important. In other regions, titles seem to matter very little; In Central and Eastern Europe, for example, just five percent view titles as very important. In North America and Western Europe, titles are also seen as much less important than in other regions.

The findings should impact, among other things, how global organizations think about employee fast-track programs (i.e. those programs used to train and promote future leaders in large multinational organizations).

Understanding a misunderstood generation

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