Interns, Hannah Magnuson and Shannon O’Malley
As members of the millennial generation, we often define “socializing” as synonymous with hunching over our smartphones. A day spent texting, tweeting, and FaceTiming friends from out-of-town is considered a day with heavy communication. However, when it comes to the workroom, we millennials may need to learn that in-person communication still holds value and cannot be completely replaced by the newest technology, no matter how convenient.
In his Chicago Tribune column, “Millennials eager to lead and would welcome help,” Rex W. Huppke cites Pew Research Data which says 18-34 year-olds have overtaken the workplace. While these millennials are reportedly eager to become leaders, there remains a rift in how their current skillsets will translate to leadership positions. As interns we regularly send texts to subordinates, equals and superiors because sometimes shooting out a text is easier than emailing. Millenials, like us, tend to assume that all professionals check their texts as frequently as we do. Can we successfully lead veterans of the workforce while utilizing communication methods that these older generations have not yet embraced?
Recently, “The Millennial Leadership Study” found that the overwhelming majority of millennials strive for leadership roles and cite “communication” as their strongest tool to attain their goal of assuming leadership positions. Their main goal is to empower others as opposed to making money, a selfless ambition that has been absent in the workforce for quite some time. However, their definition of “communication” is comprised of social media shout-outs, and lacks a personal touch. While the ability to send out a cleverly crafted and wide-reaching Tweet is a useful skill, these new workers need to learn that face-to-face communication remains invaluable.
Guidance from more experienced workers will be necessary to teach that communication encompasses much more than exchanging words from behind a screen. Millennials trying to lead older generations by means of advanced forms of communication will soon learn that they cannot obtain experience of Generation X and the Baby Boomers by reading about them on the World Wide Web. Instead, they may wish to try sitting down and having a conversation.
These generations must learn from one another how to establish a balance between communication and technology. If their staunch differences prevent them from working together, it will lead to chaos, miscommunications and eventual crises. As millennials redefine their conceptions of what it takes to be a leader, their abilities to respond positively to their coworkers’ feedback will be paramount.
Even in an age where text messages, Twitter, and FaceTime dominate the social sphere, the power of face-to-face interactions and constructive feedback will never be outdated. The sooner we millennials learn to look up from our phones, the sooner we might attain our desired leadership roles.