I read a stat the other day from First Data that stated, 41st of millennials prefer to communicate at work electronically rather than “face to face”.” This is a fact for me and I know it is true for many of my peers. But not for the reasons you think and over the last few weeks this has become more and more apparent to me along with the importance of overcoming this stat when the time calls for it.
It is not that we are lazy or just because we have grown up digital it is that often times it takes too long in the work world to get in front of someone’s face. Millenials are a generation of efficiency and getting to the point. We have grown up in a world where answers are just a google away; they don’t take months to get on someone’s calendar. I have seen it over the last couple of months in my new position people from all over the bank coming together in a collaborative way and solving problems that over the phone “because it’s easier” would take months to solve. The challenge is that not everyone makes the time or feels that they will get value out of sitting in a room with a bunch of people.
Millenials have grown up being able to text all of our friends; although it is important to note, not all of us had texting from an early age as the kids do now, I still remember when my parents had Palm Pilots for work and I would play tetris on them. I also remember my first cellphone was a TracFone that cost half a minute per text (we have sure come a long way). Not all of us grew up with iMessage and smartphones. I am still using my first “smartphone”, hopefully for only a few more weeks since the new 6s has come out and my 4s is on end of life.
I am a millennial and I would rather have a conversation with a person face-to-face at work but it is because I want to gauge their expression and reaction to what we are talking about. But I don’t want to wait month’s to have a conversation either. For something small, it is easier to just sent a text, message, or email to someone than to wait to get on a calendar.
Face-to-face communication is not dead, if anything it is more important than ever as the millennial generation progresses through their careers. Don’t create more tools that encourage non-in-person conversations but create more tools pulling people together (virtual or in person), more things get done with this technology, this is when progress happens, not over the phone. Millenials may struggle with face-to-face conversations sometimes but we need to learn that there is a time and a place for quick and convenient and there is a time for meeting and talking. It is just making the most out of the meeting that is the most crucial piece to getting anyone to actually come to a meeting, especially a millenial!