Yes, according to some of the people recently interviewed by the Miami Herald reporter, Cindy Krischer Goodman. I am a huge fan of  Cindy’s.  She writes for the business section of the Miami Herald.  Having been a corporate executive for over 25 years, I naturally gravitate to the business section of the paper and it’s usually what I read first.  Cindy writes about a lot of different topics that affect the business world. One thing is always consistent in her writing and is the reason why I follow her: she blends the human element to the often impersonal, fact based and stodgy world of business.  That is not an easy thing to do and that’s precisely what makes her articles stand out and pop.  Wouldn’t you rather read the facts and figures wrapped up in an interesting  story?  

Anyway,  in last Sunday’s edition, she wrote an article called “Recession Sparks New Attitudes for Gen Y“.  In the article, she interviewed some of the local corporate executives who felt that the Millennials currently working for them had indeed become easier to manage.  They were not being as demanding as they had been about fast tracking their careers.  They were staying longer too. 

 A big focus of the article was on Millennials working in law firms.  For years, Boomer lawyers have been going crazy trying to figure out how to deal with Millennials.  Having worked with lawyers and being acquainted with many of them, I can personally attest to the frustration they feel with their Gen Y staff.  I have shared with them many of the techniques I learned and developed as a result of putting my Millennial staff under the microscope.  Although skeptical at first,  these Boomer lawyers were able to see how I went from frustration to amazement as I got know and understand the Millennials. If I could do it, so could they.

I think the recession has touched all of us in some unexpected ways so it doesn’t surprise me to read about how Millennials are adapting to this “new normal”.  Millennials are extremely adaptable.  Look at the world they’ve had to live in.  Rapid change has truly been the only constant in their young lives.  No other generation, except perhaps the Veterans, has had to deal with such life altering events as they have over such a short period of time.  The recession has undoubtedly made them evaluate their situation and they will factor that into their outlook going forward.  Instead of seeing it as a negative, they will learn from it and grow from the experience.

However, leaders would be unwise to take the Millennials for granted and believe the corporation has the upper hand.  The current events may provide some tweaks to the traits and values of this young workforce but it will not eliminate them. I agree with Stan Smith in the article who believes Gen Yers are compliant for now.  That doesn’t mean that their values aren’t still there.  Savvy leaders will continue to find ways to connect with this young group. They will challenge their legacy leadership principles and experiment with new techniques that will be effective in leading  a very diverse and dynamic 21st Century workforce.

I like the ending quote from the article.  Richard Berkowitz, the  director of a local accounting firm learned something important by working with his Millennial staff:  “They aren’t going to walk in and become great. You have to teach them how to be great professionals.”

Isn’t that what leadership is all about?  What about you?  How are you leading during this recession?  What are you doing to help your staff become great professionals?