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A Workforce of Tethered Millennials

Podcast: 2008/8/11 - 26:40

Presenters: Cliff S. Moser, AIA & Meg Brown, AIA

Moderator: Michael J. Crosbie, PhD, AIA






Meg Brown is a principal at Perkins+Will with strategic oversight for firmwide human resources. An HR veteran with more than 20 years’ experience in the design profession, she has also worked for other notable firms, including Ellerbe Becket and Hillier Architecture. As a member of the AIA HR Large Firm Roundtable, Brown has worked with her peers to create a Shared Learning Initiative Program, which focuses on project leadership, scope management, and project planning.

Cliff S. Moser, AIA, LEED AP, is vice president of architecture at CADFORCE in Los Angeles. Previously he was healthcare principal of RTKL Associates in Los Angeles. In addition, he serves on the Advisory Group of the AIA Practice Management Knowledge Community and is the 2008 chair of the Design and Construction Division of the American Society for Quality.

Each new generation of architecture graduates has presented its own staffing challenges to the design firm. Whether large or small, firms have struggled with skill assessment and training of each new generation. The current group of young professionals, born between 1985 and 2000, called Millennials, present new and different challenges to project and firm management.

While the firm's senior management may consist of 40- to 60-year-old baby boomers—who struggled with training the now 30- to 40- year-old GenXers (who currently fill the firm's project architect and management roles)—Millennials will add a new dimension of confusion to the unprepared practice. Additionally, this group of individuals will be using new and unfamiliar production tools, such as building information modeling (BIM), which will exacerbate existing team staffing and training programs.

This podcast outlines the requirements for identifying and creating HR processes that facilitate a firm's ability to quickly understand, use, acculturate, and leverage this generation in a productive and continually age-diverse organization. Since most design firms tacitly rely on design schools or previous firm experience to provide the rudimentary but necessary training for their young staff, understanding the Millennials' strengths, weaknesses, and abilities will help produce positive results for both staff and organization.

Millennial staff members have been abrogated as too tethered to home and parents; lacking in work ethic, critical thinking and problem-solving skills; and too indecisive and demanding. However, this focus on the negative misses the fact that this group is typically unafraid of new technology; experienced with collaborative, team-based problem solving; goal-oriented; and able to successfully multitask. This talent is the best type of staff to focus on collaborative BIM-intensive projects.



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