Trends, not stereotypes
But before getting too deep into that discussion, Rikleen cautioned the audience about stereotypes. While research is useful for talking about trends and drawing some conclusions about generations as a whole, she said, it should never be used to stereotype individual employees or members.
That said, Millennials tend to share some defining characteristics, such as pragmatism, optimism, and an aversion to autocratic leadership styles, Rikleen noted, citing research. They see a leader as a strategic thinker who inspires others with strong interpersonal skills, vision, passion, and an ability to act decisively. Millennials also crave autonomy on the job and want their bosses to care about their overall well-being and professional growth, not just financial results.
“I think these are really important qualities to be thinking about in our bar association roles,” Rikleen said.
Rikleen is no stranger to this topic, or to the work of bar associations. She is a former law firm partner, a past president of the Boston Bar Association, and an active ABA member. Her books include You Raised Us, Now Work With Us, which focuses on how generations can better understand each other and enhance leadership and talent development in the workplace.
Millennials are a global generation, constantly connected by technology. They are loyal—but to people over organizations, Rikleen said. They will join organizations, but they need a compelling reason to do so because of competing choices and opportunities, she added.
“I have yet to talk to a Millennial who says, ‘I don’t join,’” she said. “But they’ll have very thoughtful discussions about what they’re looking for when they ultimately do join and what they think about retention.”