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Book Review: “You Raised Us – Now Work With Us” – A Fresh Look at Millennials in the Multigenerational WorkForce

Book Review: “You Raised Us – Now Work With Us” – A Fresh Look at Millennials in the Multigenerational WorkForce

You Raised Us – Now Work With Us by Lauren Stiller Rikleen will appeal to all generations who work in today’s multigenerational workforce.  The book focuses on Millennials as they march forward to becoming 75% of the workforce in 2025. As a mom of four Millennials, a former corporate executive and now a speaker on the topic of work/life, the title alone attracted me to this book.

Although written in a familial style, this book is focused on the workplace.

Here’s why you should read this book:

1) We need to get along. Diversity by age is a larger factor than either gender or race affecting employee engagement and productivity.
2) Companies need to grow. Millennial leaders are associated with high growth companies, making connecting across generations a business imperative.
3) We need to get a life. The concept of work being separate from life is obsolete and the time is now to reinvent our work/life blend – no matter what our generation.

Lauren Rikleen is an Executive in Residence at the Boston College Center for Work & Family in the Carroll School of Management. She writes from the perspective of a researcher, but I could also hear the voice of a mom telling us why Millennials are misrepresented as the entitled generation. The information is shared through anecdotes backed up by extensive research, which is well documented in the notes and bibliography sections.

We need to get along.

Sidebar generationsWere you aware that Millennials are 36% of the workforce today and will be 75% of the workforce by 2025 per projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics? Gen X’ers (a smaller generational swath) and Boomers (who seem to be forever delaying their retirement) will live through this transformation. Organizations can gain or lose competitiveness depending on how well they adjust. Age diversity can be divisive with generations at best miscommunicating and at worst deliberately sabotaging each other.

The author cites a study that shows age bias has a more dramatic effect than either race or gender bias. I recall my own experience as a new female plant manager. A member of my management team confided to me it was my age (33 years old) more than my gender that had them wondering if I was capable of filling the shoes of the 65 year old man who retired. Lauren Rikleen makes a compelling case that age bias in a time of generational transformation can’t be ignored by corporations.

Companies need to grow.

The Global Leadership Forecast* shows companies with at least 30% of their leadership roles held by Millennials are correlated to high growth companies. This implies the competitive edge will go to companies that can connect across generations and develop Millennial leaders.

Lauren Rikleen takes on the biggest complaint about Millennials – that they’re entitled. It’s how they were raised; a generation awarded trophies no matter if they won or lost as children. I admit to repeatedly telling my own children how special they were growing up. According to Rikleen, Millennials bring not entitlement, but rather confidence, optimism, and persistence – traits that support business growth.

The author reminds us each generation’s stereotype brings strengths to the workplace. The “workaholic” Boomers bring their strong work ethic and drive. “Cynical” Gen X’ers bring their ability to focus on bottom-line results honed by years of corporate restructuring.

In the chapter titled “Navigating Ambiguity and Other Lessons that Helicopter Parents Should Have Taught,” Lauren Rikleen makes the case for guidance from management, peers and external resources to create a work culture to maximize contributions from Millennials using the strengths of Boomers and Gen X’ers. In exchange, these same generations can learn from the technical savvy Millennials to gain new efficiencies. (All one needs to do is to think of being raised with Mario Kart compared to Pong.)

We need to get a life.

My favorite part is the hopefulness the author ends the book with in the chapter, “The Future Thanks You for Your Sanity – how Millennials Have Redefined Success and What It Means for the Future.” It turns out all generations share a desire for a better work/life blend.

The Traditionalist generation created the workplace norm of long hours working in an office with the husband dedicated to work and the wife taking care of the home. Boomers (men and women) went along with the workplace norm, because they derived their self-esteem from work. Gen X’ers didn’t like it, but changing this outdated workplace norm in a downsizing corporate world wasn’t much of an option.

Millennials are breaking the mold. Their search for meaning in work and life, the blurring of gender roles and their sheer numbers in the workplace will force the change from the status quo. So let’s celebrate knocking down work/life barriers to create a work/life blend. Research shows that having a healthy blend improves creativity and innovation. Bring it on!

Conclusion

Yes, the blogs and books are full of multigenerational advice, but Lauren Rikleen’s 2014 book, You Raised Us – Now Work With Us improves upon the current knowledge using survey results and anecdotes to give a voice to how generations perceive themselves and each other. The tone of the book reminds me of family banter over a Thanksgiving dinner. As a Boomer, I could relate to the chapter, “Parents Can You Spare a Condo? Perspectives on Parental Financial Support.” I often wonder when my children will get off the family cell phone plan. The chapter, “Uphill Both Ways – The Millennials’ View of Their Generational Legacy,” probably hits home with Millennial readers as they see the global problems left to be solved.

This book provides a contemporary view of Millennials entering the workforce alongside the Boomers and Gen X’ers, encouraging us to get along as colleagues. Developing Millennials into leadership positions can provide competitive advantage. Adapting the workplace to be current with work/life trends can pay off in productivity.

Enough said. Carve that turkey, pass the potatoes and let’s dish out the new generational workforce model where the best of each generation contributes to business success. Lauren Rikleen’s guidance can help you through the generational transformation. 2025 will be here before you know it.

*Development Dimensions International (DDI), Global Leadership Forecast 2014-2015, http://bit.ly/1zqjbpR

OSU picture v6b amlBook review by Karen Murphy

Karen conducts Workshops, Mastermind Groups & Keynotes on work/life strategies to be successful and fulfilled.  Contact Karen at ktmurphy@WorkLifePursuit.com

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