Millennial Madness: Part 2 – How a prominent Charlotte employer wrestles to change its culture.

In my last post, I wrote about how Duke Energy, one of the region’s largest employers, is set to have half of its workforce retire before long. Or at least the workers will be eligible to retire. It’s a daunting scenario, and Duke has been involved in an interesting project up in Ohio to better understand the next generation of workers that will replace the soon-to-be retirees. Understanding who these workers are and what motivates them is crucial for any company’s future.

Currently, Millennials make up 28.7% of the workforce, compared to 23.7% of the workforce who are Baby Boomers. The differences between these generations are substantial. Baby Boomers tend to be more optimistic, where Generation X tends to be more skeptical, and Millennials tend to be more hopeful and optimistic. Research also shows that the work ethic for Baby Boomers is very driven. Generation X looked to be balanced, but Millennials are eager and anxious. Research also shows that views on authority are very different. Baby Boomers looked for a chain of command. Generation X was self-commanded, and Millennials tend to be much more collaborative and don’t take being commanded very well. Finally, research shows that Baby Boomers are motivated by achievement, where Generation X like to do it their way, and Millennials seek collaboration.

At Cardinal, we use summer interns and have found them to be highly productive and a lot of fun to work with. The alumnus group that we’ve generated by doing this year after year is a blast to stay in touch with. Some of what we’ve learned about their preferences and behaviors and been able to support with research is:

  • Millennials like money but they are primarily driven by purpose and a global perspective.
  • They want to hear about salary, but also about how a prospective employer will address an employee’s passion.
  • It’s the Instagram generation – they are constantly connected. This is the generation that talks in terms of Google being too slow.
  • Fulfillment is important from an employer/employee relationship. They look at the company to help them develop character.
  • Remember the world is flat to these people. There’s no hierarchy and they think everyone should have a corner office
  • How do they like to negotiate? They’re less professional, less formal, and they put a higher value on preparation. Their expectations of preparation and delivery at the table are also much higher. They value truthfulness, transparency, and negotiations that get right to the point.

In our summer program we’ve used some creative processes for tapping into our interns’ motivation, and used it successfully to get them engaged in projects. We get them involved early and help them map out their summer. This in turn lets us tap into their innovation.

That approach is coincidentally how we approach every project we take on. We basically applied our normal project management approach to managing interns, and it worked super well. I wrote about the power of interns and how I’ve managed interns in the past. If interested, you can find that report on our website (click here) or by emailing us and asking for our white paper called The Extraordinary Intern Experience™.

Real estate transactions can be fraught with frustration and pitfalls.

Sometimes the hardest part turns out to be working with your broker, the person who is supposed to help you through the complexities. Veteran commercial real estate broker and client advisor John Culbertson discovered that brokers’ interests aren’t always aligned with those of their clients. He realized there was a better way to advocate for clients and get the deal done.


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