Is the technical advantage that millennials have starting to dissipate? You know, their skills with technology which are supposed to give them an advantage over their Gen-x and boomers colleagues in the workplace.

Read any of the myriads of books and articles about millennials to a fault these authors touted their skill and expertise with technology as their advantage to those who weren’t as proficient with the mastery of world of technology. But, a funny thing happened on the way to their predicted rise to the top, the recession.

The “great recession of 2008” threw a monkey-wrench in their plans to transform the workplace. If anything, the recession has forced many millennials to improvise and adapt and take on characteristics of both the boomers and Gen-Xers they are looking to replace.

The Recession Forced Boomers To Adapt! Faced with major losses in their retirement funds, Boomers, did the only thing they could, they used their political skills and organizational savvy to stay in their jobs. Long ago, they figured out how to create the persona of a valued employee as such it allows them to exercise certain skills that millennials have yet to acquire. In certain instances, a boomer’s seniority allows them to “bump” a person out of their current position. In other situations, they call in “favors” they’ve accumulated over time. In other words, they’re not going without first exhausting everything in their bag of tricks, a bag I might add that many millennials have yet to develop.

Technology Isn’t the Boggy-Man! There is a lot of hype around millennials ability to use technology because they grew up with it all around them. Granted they may and are good at using it in ways that are impressive and astounding. But, let’s not forget who invented much of the technology that is being used today. Not all Boomers are afraid of using technology. Maybe they’re not as fast at texting as their younger counterparts, but they text fast enough to be effective at work, and that’s what counts.

Formidable Competition in the Marketplace! Ok right now it’s tough for everyone who’s job hunting. When speaking to college students who are about to enter the job market I ask them a simple question, “Who do you see as your competition?” Invariably they respond back by saying their graduating class. They forget about the class the year before them, not to mention all the people – which includes – boomers who have the experience that companies are seeking. Most hiring managers will error on the side of proven experience over untested potential. There are companies who will take a risk on newly minted undergraduate or graduate students with the idea of molding them to their way of doing business. But, they would be hard pressed to pass up a more qualified candidate who has already proven they’re responsible and dependable, along with demonstrating they understand how to operate effectively in the work environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no ill feelings toward the millennial generation, as they do represent the group of individuals that will ultimately occupy many of the positions that will be vacated by their predecessors. They bring with them a level of inspiration and belief that they can make a difference and they have the tools ability to affect change. Unfortunately, they were gob smacked by the recession. Which has put a serious crimp in they’re upending the work environment as predicted by all those who wrote about the change that would come about from this group.

Millennials do come with a set of desirable skills which can have an impact, but, it doesn’t necessarily translate into any significant change that companies haven’t managed when other generations entered the workforce.

Perhaps the key to dealing with all the hype around the how the millennials will bring about change is to understand as skillful as they may be, they still have to adapt to their work environment. For them to do this successfully, you as a manager, will have to make some adjustments in how you manage, coach and guide those under your tutelage. As a manager it’s you responsibility to find a way to effectively utilize all the assets under your control. By assisting them through a process of guided discovery, they will adapt and use their talents productively just as those who came before them have. Also, they will realize why it’s called work and not play as they will be glad they have a job.

© Timothy A. Wilson 2013. All Rights Reserved