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I’ve been called a lot of things in my 32.5 years of life – some more suitable for print than others.

But up until this past weekend, I had never been called a “Millennial,” a term used for the energetic, technologically savvy yet sometimes misunderstood youth in today’s workforce.

While I certainly thought myself neither a “Boomer” (aka my parents, and those about to leave the workforce), nor a “Gen Xer” (aka my babysitters growing up who today are in senior roles at most businesses – or still sitting around listening to Nirvana on tape and watching Reality Bites on VHS), I could have sworn there was a cool term for “my people” somewhere in between “The Jonas Brothers Generation” and “We Love Wynona Ryder Generation.”

Something for those of us in high school during the Spice Girls’ world domination and the first of the American Pie movies that would still prefer to buy CDs over downloading anything to an iPod?

But, alas, there is not.

As I learned from (lovable, calm, sweet-natured, optimistic) Ken Jacobs’Managing and Motivating Millennials” session at the PRSA Western District Conference over the weekend, Millennials are those of us generally born from the late 1970s (I was born in September 1980) to the late 1990s. We are also called the MTV Generation, but I personally think that a term better-suited to the Gen Xers since they can actually vividly remember music videos above and beyond Total Request Live on the channel.

But, like so many over-scheduled, over-stimulated Millennials, I digress.


We are more adept and generally comfortable with technology than any generation before us.

We are more socially conscious than any generation before us.

We are more educated than any generation before us.


So, time for us to take over the world then, right?

Not so fast!

While comfortable with technology, we lack basic skills involving human interaction – often choosing texting over telephones and long emails over long face-to-face conversations.

While more socially conscious than any generation before us, we lack an understanding of entry-level salary expectations and the amount of experience we need to be considered “boss.”

While more educated than any generation before us, we suffer from sometimes-insufferably delicate egos and general sense of self.

Given the above, Jacobs’ outlined 20 tips for managers to consider to better work with us and mentor us into true adulthood. As a “senior member” of the Millennial generation and someone attempting to manage and motivate Millennials myself, I wanted to weigh in on some of those that impacted me the most:

  1. Paint the “big picture” and then get out of the way – I often assume if I have talked about the big picture once, no matter how long ago, that everyone will know how their work fits into the whole scheme of things forevermore. Not so much, according to Jacobs. So, starting yesterday, I sat down with members of my team face-to-face and painted each client’s “big picture” one by one and then assigned projects that fit into the grand scheme. Now I am stepping out of the way and seeing how the team responds – wish us luck!
  2. Give them rope, but provide a safety net – As you can see from this blog post, I am quote verbose. Can you imagine how detailed my project assignments are for my team (shudder)? I leave pretty much nothing to the – specifically their – imaginations. But, that ended yesterday. I painted the big picture, so now it is their turn to make their own masterpieces, with me there to provide guidance and support along the way.
  3. Give them a voice in decision-making – Those projects above? I asked for my team to tell me, based on how it will best fit into the big picture, how, when and why they would be due, done and researched rather than assigning deadlines like an overlord.

If you attended his session, what did you take from the many tips provided?

If you didn’t – how else do you recommend managing and motivating Millennials?

If you are a Millennial, how do you work, and what do you want from your senior team leaders?

Comment below!


Alison Bailin
Alison Bailin
Senior Account Executive Alison has a lot to say…about pretty much everything...all the time. From the current state of public relations to the social media impact on Shark Week to crisis communications in the sports world, Alison’s blogs are focused on “amusing through her PR musings,” and then some. Check out Alison's full bio


  1. Ken Jacobs says:

    It was GREAT having you in the session–you added so much to it! I’m delighted you felt it was worth mentioning in HMA’s blog.

    And you just called me lovable, calm, sweet-natured, and optimistic! I hope that’s true.

    Many thanks!

  2. Not sure I’ll ever catch up to the Millennials in many areas. And I know they won’t catch up to me in a few. And — Ken is everywhere!

  3. Alison Bailin says:

    Don’t be so sure, Scott. That robo-elbow and cadaver knee won’t hold up forever, especially at your rate!

  4. Jean Twenge, the author of the 2006 book Generation Me, considers Millennials along with younger Gen Xers to be part of a generation called Generation Me.

  5. Kris Antonelli says:

    Hey, not crazy about your description up top of boomers — parents and those about to leave the workforce. I am a boomer — born at the tail end of it and I am in no way at all ready to leave the workforce!! I have been described as very energetic and pretty tech/social media savvy. So please, no more stereotyping and generalizations here!

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