Personas are defined by an individual’s underlying need. These underlying needs are not easily observable; they go deep within a person’s heart. These underlying needs become the motivation for certain sets of behaviour that individuals exhibit.
Every millennial has a dominant persona, even if they see bits of themselves in other personas. Another important thing to note is that the persona that one has can change as one enters different life stages.
The Traditionalist craves for stability. In all aspects of their lives, they don’t wish to deviate too far from the norm. They are driven by their need for comfort and security. They don’t want to miss out on the best of things but they also don’t see the need to be overly idealistic in thinking they can pursue their dreams without a cost to their security. A stable job, a stable income, a stable family is what they strive for. This stability gives them security, and they give their loyalty in exchange for this security. A volatile relationship with work and relationships disconcerts them. Traditionalists echo the stereotyped Baby Boomers that are typically known to be loyal, committed and hardworking individuals that easily submit to hierarchy. They are in a way a continuation of the generations before them.
The Dreamer craves to fulfil their life’s purpose, to follow their bliss, and to live a life of meaning. They aren’t necessarily idealists but spend a vast amount of energy taking slow and steady steps toward fulfilling their dreams and passions in life. They want a life that is characterized with meaning, and a life where they do what they absolutely love. They envy those who seem to have “made it.” The magnitude of their actions in response to their dreaming nature characterizes them differently. We see Dreamers on a spectrum. On the one end, they are dreamers who are not yet ready to take action to pursue their callings, and on the other hand, they are fully ready to embrace the uncertainties and risks to achieve what they were born to do. Millennial Dreamers have a wider range of passion and possibilities than ever before thanks to technology and globalization.
The Relational Devotee is one that prioritizes their relationships over everything else. From family, to friendships, to partners and colleagues, they find the greatest meaning in pursuing a connection with every individual. They need to feel connected to a person or a community. They are driven by love and by their desire for connection. These relationships are central to most decision-making situations. It’s people first, everything else second. Millennial Relational Devotees are not afraid of the cross-cultural and international borders that separate them and their loved ones. Social media has made it easier to keep in touch with people anywhere around the world.
4) The Experience Maximizer
“I want to know as much as I can about the world I live in. While I’m young, I want to take risks and explore as much as I can so that I can make better decisions later on. ”
The Experience Maximizer has a relentless curiosity about the world and a desire to learn and expand their knowledge through accumulating different life experiences. They live in a way that The Traditionalist would consider irresponsible. Whether its travelling around the world, or working across industries, or trying new hobbies, or accumulating a diverse set of skills, The Experience Maximizer lives in a trial and leave manner. They believe that this is the best way to broaden their horizons and make informed decisions later on. The Millennial Experience Maximizer sees infinite possibilities and areas to explore. Anything is possible.
5) The Achiever
“I was just at this Big Data Conference in Dubai… I built this new app with a guy I met there. We already finished coding the backend, but are still working on the design. We want to prototype it and raise some funding soon – want to see it?”
The Achiever is the accomplished individual with countless achievements to their name. Sometimes we wonder if they are born as humans like the rest of us, but most of the time, we are too distracted with gaping at their accolades to do so. For most Achievers, the constant need for challenge, growth and status drives their ways of life. They hate stagnation and do their best to stay ahead of the crowd by constantly challenging themselves to get to the next level. Unlike The Traditionalist or the Dreamer who are driven by stability and meaning, The Achiever just wants to be challenged and to be ahead of themselves and the rest in all areas of their lives. The Millennial Achiever is ambitious and bold. They are keen on tackling the big global issues that generations before would have never dared dreamed. Poverty? Environment? Bring it on! They are out to change the world, period.
While we might find similarities in these personas in other generations such as Gen X, we believe the context is very different for the Millennial generation due to the influence of technology, social media, and globalization.
1) Traditionalist – Mentor me!
The Traditionalist gains assurance from stability, as they thrive on logic and consistency. The Traditionalist makes decisions based on truth and principles, regardless of the specific situation or people involved, thus acknowledging and perhaps, even complimenting them would endear The Traditionalist to you. The Traditionalist derives comfort from having someone to look up to – better yet, if the mentor is a source of aspiration for him or her. Maintain an open line of communication to let them know how they are doing and how they can improve. Demonstrating consistency and impartiality in actions and decision-making will earn the respect of The Traditionalist. Showing them how their role contributes to the overall big picture will gain their allegiance to the organization.
2) Relational Devotee – Relate to me!
As their need for relationships in life takes precedence, The Relational Devotee feels an affinity to those they can easily relate to. Try to find similarities or common interests with The Relational Devotee. Although The Relational Devotee appreciates guidance and advice, provide them support without making them feel as if they were being “mothered.” Be sure to include The Relational Devotee in team discussions or activities, as they love collaboration and teamwork. Don’t try to motivate a Relational Devotee with talks of work incentives, ambitious targets and aspirational dreams – they are much more interested in investing time and energy into their relationships both at and outside of work.
3) Dreamer – Inspire me!
The Dreamer feels alive when given the freedom to pursue their dreams – which is why it is important to give them time and resources to build on their dreams. Whether it is to be a Hollywood actress, famous food blogger or world traveller, lead them to see a greater purpose to what they do as it gives them meaning to make a greater impact in their work. Dreamers live to have their dreams realized, to make an imprint in the world they live in. If they are working for you, it is either because their current role helps foster skills toward their dream or it is because they have no choice but to work for you to make a living. Motivate them by inspiring them with possibilities, personal stories, experiences and showing genuine interest in helping them make their dreams a reality.
4) Experience Maximizer – Inspire & challenge me!
The Experience Maximizer has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and experience, which makes them prone to multi-tasking, taking up multiple skill-sets, and dabbling in just about everything they can get their hands on. They are ambitious like the Achiever, but just in a different context. They can be easily turned off by the dreaded “SOPs” and corporate culture, and thus having flexibility at work makes them feel respected and valued. As they prefer to have diverse work activity and experiences, be willing to let The Experience Maximizer explore different projects at work or give them opportunities to explore their interests outside of work. Experience Maximizers need challenge and purpose to stay engaged. If they are not happy with their experience for a long period of time, they will leave to find more interesting experiences.
5) Achiever – Challenge & mentor me!
The Achiever is easily bored, hence they need to be constantly challenged and stimulated. Given their ambitions and talent, challenging tasks (that might seem daunting to other personas) fuel their need for growth. Gamifying work or activities might even reignite the passion and excitement The Achiever craves for. Achievers like the autonomy to explore their own ambitious projects but also enjoy the comfort of having a mentor who they respect and can learn from. The Achiever makes decisions from a point of logic and often times sets targets to reach. They are highly self-motivated and cannot tolerate mediocrity. As a manager, focus on challenging these Millennials and investing resources to develop them to help them reach their preset targets. Incentivize them with rewards, titles, and bonuses – achievers want to know they are constantly progressing and improving.