Millennials: Your Best Resources for Project Management in the World of NGOs

From the Project Managers Without Borders Blog
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This blog provides project management content and tools for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Our objective is to inspire project managers to volunteer and make a positive difference in the world through project management.

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Unless you have been living in a different galaxy for the past decade, you have probably heard of Millennials and how they are conquering the workplace. However, who are these individuals with a cool sounding name, what are the traits that define them and, more important for us, how can they impact the project management space and, in particular, project management in the world of NGOs?

Simply put, Millennials are all those who entered their adulthood at the same time they entered the second millennium, that is, everyone who belongs to the generation born between the 80s and the 90s. Just like your humble servant writing today’s blog post, by the way.

When Millennials were growing up, so too was the now familiar @ symbol. The internet was just starting to gain adoption in its frenetic way to become a commodity and a necessity. Altavista, mIRC, the first Nokia mobile phones, oh, what an exciting time to be alive! Millennials were at the middle of it when the history of humanity suddenly become split in two periods: BG, AG – Before Google and After Google. Welcome to the future, 2018 AG.

It’s no wonder then, that Millennials are known for their increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies, to the point that they have even been called the “thumb tribe” or “thumb generation,” meaning that this group is more adept at texting using the thumbs than talking on the phone!

Adding to the previous, not only are the Millennials one of the most ethnically and racially diverse generation – one of the many effects of globalization – but they are also considered to be one of the most formally educated, with a natural impact on their view of the economy, religion, and politics.

From a workplace perspective, there are also significant differences between generations that should be acknowledged. While previous generations tend to value loyalty at work, a steady career path, and a nice pay check at the end of the month, Millennials resonate primarily with job satisfaction and personal realization, placing an emphasis on meaningful work rather than compensation, and in an improved work-life balance rather than a stable career.

Bearing this in mind, you cannot expect to project manage a Millennial in the same way you manage someone older and achieve the same results at the end. So, if you have a Millennial in your project, here are some tips on how to build a win-win scenario for both parties:

  • Find what makes them tick and focus on it: Millennials are driven by purpose and that’s why they are the perfect candidates for project management in the world of NGOs. If you want to attract and keep a Millennial, find what they are passionate about, what they aim to achieve, and work with them on realizing that vision.

 

  • Assign them meaningful work: Unless they can change the world, Millennials won’t be interested. They need to be assigned meaningful work because they want to contribute to something bigger than themselves, leave a legacy behind, a dent in the universe.

 

  • Give them the tools (and the space): Millennials learned to work anytime from anywhere, so don’t ask them to be in the office from 9 to 5. Give them the freedom to find their creative outlet, even if this means being in a coffeeshop 10,000 miles away from work and using Skype for a conference call with a key client.

 

  • Give them immediate feedback: No one is more concerned about personal advancement then a Millennial and this should not be confused with a need for a career path. Millennials don’t want a career, they want to collect experiences and learn from multiple sources. Hence, they value immediate feedback as an opportunity to grow and invest in their skillset.

 

  • Let them fail: Contrary to the norm, Millennials are not afraid to fail. In fact, they want to! The earlier the failure, the better since this will allow for a fast learning and for more opportunities for experimentation. As a manager, learn to embrace the failure as a positive thing and you’ll get a new ally in Millennials.

 

Further to the above, it’s easy to understand why Millennials may as well be your best resource for project management in a world of NGOs! Where else can one find a better place where resources are scarce, thus requiring creative solutions and approaches while, at the same time, offering an opportunity for experimentation and for meaningful work towards a better world, enriched by purpose? Pretty much a Millennial’s dream!

That’s surely why Susan Diec, herself a Millennial, has joined Project Managers Without Borders as a volunteer, a story that you can read here!

Are you a Millennial? There are plenty of NGOs in need out there, come and join us.

Posted by Marisa Silva on: January 03, 2018 01:20 PM | Permalink

Comments (23)

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And perhaps just a little bit of pandering ;-) Thanks for this informative article.

Millennials are the tech generation, technology seems to be wired into the DNA.
Thank you Marisa for tips on managing millennials on project team.

Informative and thanks for posting.

Thanks for sharing, some interesting insights for sure. I manage / lead many millennials within my daily Program Portfolio delivery work and I concur with all of your points. The one trait that I would caution or coach millennials on [based on my experience with some of them, not all] is to savor each project experience a bit, take the necessary time to make your mark / boost your brand by performing and truly delivering upon your immediate assignment objectives, BEFORE seeking to move on to the next big thing. To make a dent in the universe, you need to first make a groove in the galaxy :-)

As part of millenials, I see myself reflected in many points described. In my opinion, it is key to align the project objectives with the personnal objectives somehow to get the maximum performance of new generations, making them important to get the objectives. And it is also true that we (millenials) have to be more patient and give ourselves time to learn from failure and success.

Thank you for sharing!

Good and informative post. Tnx

I think that the millennians are the next generation that need to do that culture continue, but is necessary manteine a equilibriun between all generations.

Having three millennial's myself, I can also tell you they like to telework; they do not see the need for relentless meetings in the office. They like to work from home, or wherever they are at during the day and prefer Facetime, Skype, or whatever form of video conferencing is available.

Agreed!
Millennials are more productive, technology-driven and risk-taking. These traits make them good Project Managers in terms of delivery.

Ali

Thanks for sharing

I enjoy reading this post which is quite informative. Thanks for sharing.

Very good
Thanks

Thanks for this post. As I'm a millenial it's like you read my mind. Regarding failing. I prefer let me fail and I will learn. Let me fail fast and I will learn fast. Thats the agile way what we prefer.

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for sharing, rather enjoy working with millennials

Interesting insights.
Thank you for posting.

I really enjoy this. Thank you so much

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