Saturday, June 20, 2009

Expectations of the Millenials and how they learn


Business Times p.B1

Saturday, June 20, 2009



By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM

Expectations of the Millenials and how they learn


Last column, we described them and asked you if you are ready for the millenials or net gens (those born 1977 to 97) and our reference is the thoughtful keynote speech of Tony Bingham at the immensely successful ASTD 2009 Conference & Exposition in Washington, D.C.


If you are working with or for those ages 32 and younger, wonder no more why they act and talk in a particular way.


Tony talked about the netgens' expectations for work and how they impact how you manage your business and lead your workforce.


Dan Tapscott, in his book Grown Up Digital, writes, "Whereas previous generations value loyalty, seniority, security and authority, the netgen norms reflect a desire for freedom, fun and collaboration. In this war for talent, employers are going to have to understand these key netgen norms if they want to hire them, and keep them. They want the freedom to work when and where they want, and the freedom to enjoy work and family life. The netgens mix work with their personal lives."


 Tony added, "I think we're seeing this for just about all workers today. The line between work and personal life is gray."


Dan says the other expectations of the netgens are:


• They want customization—this is what they're used to.


• They want to be managed as individuals, not as a big group. This means individualized learning and development opportunities, project based role description, lots of feedback on their performance, and open and regular dialogues with their manager.


• Integrity and transparency are essential to this generation. This is how their virtual communities operate.


• Collaboration: they are not turned on by climbing the corporate ladder. They demand challenging work, and want to achieve with other people. This is how they get things done.


• Entertainment: they want work to be fun, and see work and fun as the same thing, just like all of you do.


Tony recalled, "Speaking of fun, I was just reading the TechCrunch blog about what happened to eBay. In 2006, eBay had nearly 50 percent audience reach—basically half of the US Internet population visited eBay each month. eBay used to be fun to visit way back in 2006. Then came MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, which gave people new venues for fun. The group at eBay tried to bring fun back to it, but they were not able to do so. By December 2008 eBay visitors only account for 1.5 percent of the total minutes online according to comScore. Interestingly, eBay had been described as the perfect Internet business. Now they are struggling. And, look at how fast that happened. Dan Tapscott writes about speed and innovation, and details about the eight norms.


Formal learning—facilitated, scheduled, organized and structured—does not appeal to the netgens or the majority of your workforce in the future. Though, traditional formal learning—certification, compliance, and deep learning—will continue to be formal because the structure is required.


 In the May issue of Training & Development (T & D) magazine, Josh Bersin said it well: It's not informal learning taking over everything; it's like modernization of the learning functions.


 Tony asked: 70/20/10—what do those numbers mean?


 According to Princeton University's Learning & Development department:


• 70 percent of learning and development takes place from real-life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving.


• 20 percent comes from feedback and from observing and working with the role models.


• 10 percent of learning and development comes from formal learning.


 The group at Princeton says that they will always encourage the people they work with, to give special attention to the 70 percent. Karie Willyerd of Sun uses the term "irrelevant" if the learning function doesn't get into the 70 percent. While others might fear this, Karie finds it to be a really exciting place to be and a call-to-action for the learning profession.


Are you ready to answer that call? Next column let's discuss this thing called informal learning. After all we are and will be managing netgens for a long time and they learn in an informal, social way. They are highly collaborative and love social media tools and technology. Remember the line that technology is like air to them. And social learning is enabled by Web 2.0 technologies. But, are we tapping the real potential of informal learning?


(Find Moje in Twitter and Facebook using her e-mail addy and visit her blog at

No comments: