May 25, 2012

Humans are rarely satisfied. We all like to complain, about the weather or the markets.

IT executives like to complain, too, particularly about limited technology budgets and a lack of quality tech talent. Yes, heavy layoffs have gripped the Street, but while there is a wealth of good workers, there is a dearth of excellent performers. The trick is finding the best performers, cultivating them and retaining them for the long haul.

With the entire economy facing a shortage of IT talent, it seems odd, then, that managers are so quick to criticize the newest demographic to join the workforce, Millennials, or the ME Generation. A quick Google search will uncover no shortage of horror stories about Millennials with huge salary demands and unrealistic expectations.

The truth, however, is that despite unique tendencies and habits, Millennials are no different than the generations that have come before them — in most ways but one. While each generation that comprises today's workforce has seen technology change, Millennials' lives have been shaped by it. Consider this: For most Gen Xers, email only became popular while they were in college or even after they joined the workforce. And many Boomers began their careers when only a few employees — mostly IT workers — had access to a computer. Millennials, though, have had access to email all their lives and have known Facebook since they were in grade school.

As a result, the ME Generation is probably the most tech-savvy group ever to enter the workforce. Millennials learn new software skills and tools with relative ease, multitask to the extreme, are immensely adaptable, are always connected, and want to immediately contribute to the success of whatever they are doing. And, perhaps most important, their enthusiasm hasn't been diminished by the cynicism that sometimes comes with working in a corporate environment.

CIOs should be ecstatic that they now have access to a growing talent pool of tech-savvy workers. True, management techniques need to change — Millennials demand more flexible work environments, more immediate feedback, more career development and access to the latest technology. But are these demands bad? Not at all. They seem to be exactly what IT managers should be providing in the first place. In fact, meeting these demands may just cure the IT talent shortage.

[Who's Hiring in Financial Tech?]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology.