It often seems like Millennials (those in their young twenties or thirties) were born texting, facebooking, iPhoning and twittering. Never has there been a generation so plugged-in and computerized.
But rumor has it that employers are complaining that some in this generation are missing some good old-fashioned media skills, like picking up the phone and dialing.
Anita Hofschnider writes in the Wall Street Journal that “managers have a message for younger employees: get off email and talk on the phone.”
In the workplace, these young Millennial workers struggle with sales jobs that require old-fashioned “reach out and touch someone” skills.
“Younger workers may have mastered technologies that some of their older colleagues have barely heard of, such as photo and video sharing apps Instagram and Vine, but some bosses wish they’d learn a more traditional skill: picking up the phone. In the workplace, some
managers say avoiding the phone in favor of email can hurt business, hinder creativity and delay projects.”
If you employ Millennials in your office, or have Millennial kids that are still facing job challenges, here are some tips that the pros say could help:
Brush up on your phone techniques, and try voice-to-voice communication instead of email or texting. Some workplace experts contacted by Hofschnider say some Millennials have “phone phobia” due to lack of real-life practice. (Hofschnider spoke with one phone consultant who charges an impressive $1,800 for a full-day phone technique workshop, which proves that classic phone skills are worth their weight in gold.)
(One) manager at a large utility company recently had to teach his young employee what a dial tone was and explain that desktop phones don’t require you to press “Send.”
Practice with face-to-face conversations, too. Many Millennials “have missed out on valuable face-to-face interactions and failed to learn how to speak in a polished manner, listen attentively and read other people’s expressions and body language,” says Ronald Alsop, who writes about generational workplace issues for the BBC.
“As a result,” Alsop argues, “employers are finding that their young hires are awkward in their interpersonal interactions and ill-prepared to collaborate effectively with teammates and develop relationships with clients.”
And don’t forget your business writing skills. Forgive us if we are showing our age, but in the twenty or so years our firm has been in business, we’ve noticed that writing is one of the weakest skill sets among pools of potential new hires. Good business writing is important because it helps you communicate ideas, options, and processes clearly and succinctly to clients. We can only imagine that the situation has gotten more challenging with new generations of graduates.
“Speaking and writing are the number one set of skills that our advisory board and recruiters say need more work,” said Mark Zupan, dean of the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester,” when interviewed by Alsop. As a result, his school is putting more emphasis on interpersonal communication.