Adding Generation Y to Projects

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Categories: Generational PM

Generation Y is entering the workplace. As the children of baby boomers, Generation Y may not always fit the behavior you see in many organizations, but that shouldn't impede how you leverage their talents and competences when working as team members on a project.

These 20-something new graduates, or "millennials," have lived in a technologically ubiquitous world. They've always been recognized independently of their abilities and have mastered virtual collaboration skills.
Projects provide an ideal work environment for millennials because of their temporary nature. Many in Generation Y are searching for assignments that fulfill them personally and challenge the status quo. And they like to develop solutions supported by technology.

Their attraction to technology may cause some project managers to find it challenging to communicate with millennials who don't follow traditional business formalities. For example, those that favor sending task and project status via text message rather than standard report templates.
In the project environment, millennials are closer in temperament and outlook to baby boomers. They look for smart mentors who don't talk down to them. When these types of relationships mature, boomers will show millennials how their wants can align with an organization's needs.
Millennials bring much to project environment: the ability to rapidly adapt to change, the ease with which they embrace diversity and a strong collaborative spirit. They've grown up in a changing and diverse world and have mastered many abilities that are important to projects.  

As a project or program manager, how do you attract young team members and keep them on your projects? What is the biggest challenge you have faced in working with millennial team members?

Read more from Conrado.
Read more on teams.

Posted by Conrado Morlan on: October 11, 2011 11:50 AM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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As the youngest member of our Project Team (well, the technical team, that is), I have to agree with you about the adaptability and embracing of diversity.

At this point, I am responsible for implementing PMBOK systems and controls (part of a new, company-wide policy). It's easy for me to soak up the new information and apply it, but challenging for the older guys to accept - they don't give me too hard of a time though.

Also, I really love my mentors that include me in decisions, cc me into emails and ask my opinion/ keep me in the loop on important issues. It makes me feel like I'm actually learning something and contributing to the team at the same time.

Conrado Morlan
It seems that you are in the middle of the storming stage of team development. This process is natural in the team development, it takes some time to get accepted and integrated into the team.

With the support of your mentors you will be able to start building trust on those members that are giving you a hard time. One important thing is to know the preferences of the people you are dealing with so you can tailor your contribution to the style of those team members so they can see the value you can bring to the team. — Conrado

Barry Sunshine
The next step to adding Generation Y to your projects is the use of new Social Media tools. The existing tools are focused on asynchronize communications and the new generation is more focused on synchronize communications.


In projects, communication is an important element for a successful project and communication preferences should be considered to reach team members, stakeholders and sponsors.

There are organizations around the world adopting corporate social networks as part of projects. During the PMI Global Congress 2011 – North America, Alcatel Lucent shared its experience launching a corporate social network (Session TRN 5) that had changed the way of doing projects.

The purpose of the corporate social network is to engage people in a collaborative environment and enhance communication.

This is an incipient trend and for some organizations may take some time to adopt them.

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