The Millennial Mix: What Finance and Other Business Leaders Should Know

Over the last two decades, as millennials entered the workplace and evolved in their roles, many stereotypes have developed about the generation that reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. Commonly portrayed as idealistic and overzealous, millennials have often been unfairly characterized as valuing passion over performance and fulfillment over hard work—all while expecting the corner office.

Now that millennials are deeply entrenched in the workforce, do these stereotypes hold up? Are millennials really entitled, overenthusiastic, and extroverted, or are they more reserved and practical? How can CFOs and other business leaders better understand the particular work style traits of this generation?

To find out, Deloitte LLP conducted a generational study based on Business Chemistry®, a behavioral assessment framework that matches individuals to one—sometimes two—of four types:

Drivers, who are experimental competitors

Guardians, who are detailed-oriented pragmatists

Integrators, who are empathic diplomats

Pioneers, who are outgoing risk-takers

In this issue of CFO Insights, we’ll look at where millennials fall in the Business Chemistry framework and outline some of the tactics CFOs might use to engage members of this generation in the workplace.

Be a coach first and manager second. For many millennials, ongoing consultation is not a sign of weakness, but rather a real-time feedback loop used to self-correct

Myth meets reality

While the research confirms some of the common stereotypes about millennials, it also reveals some surprising results.

Millennials, the cohort sometimes referred to as Generation Me, are most likely to identify with methodical, risk-averse Guardians than with any other type (see chart below).

Business chemistry and the generations

Source: Deloitte Greenhouse Experience

Given millennials’ reputations for “thinking big” about their career aspirations and impact, this may seem counterintuitive. One possible explanation may be that, early in their careers, millennials were often relied upon—and rewarded for—their attention to detail and ability to follow a structured, methodical approach.

Drivers, the second most prevalent type among millennials, are characterized by their focus on outcomes and goals, which suggests millennials’ preferences for practicality and action over talk and theory.

Notably, less than one-third of millennials surveyed are Integrators—the type known for its focus on people. The smallest proportion of millennials surveyed are Pioneers, who are known for blue-sky thinking, networking, and spontaneity.

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