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Review: The M-Factor by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman

Review: The M-Factor by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman post image

Title: The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace
Authors: Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman
Genre: Nonfiction
Year: 2010
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★½☆

Two Sentence Summary: Young people with a new set of work ethics and styles — the Millennials — are just entering the job market. How should companies and coworkers respond to the generation and support these young people in the workplace?

One Sentence Review: The M-Factor explains what makes Millennials different clearly, fairly, with a sense of humor, and does a good job proactively outlining ways to head off generation-based workplace conflict.

Long Review: My boyfriend is five years older than I am, which we’ve come to learn can make a difference. We have a running joke about now it’s a “generational difference” when there are big movies I haven’t seen or pop culture references he makes that I just don’t get. But it’s sometimes bigger than that, like we have two different ways of thinking about the world and how it works.

According to research presented in The M-Factor there really might be a generational divide — my boyfriend was born in 1981, which makes him on the tail end of Generation X, while I was born in 1986, right in the middle of the Millennials. The Millennials are a group that encompass anyone born between 1982 and 2000, a group that is just now entering the workforce and changing the way companies do business.

Authors Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman are consultants, and public speakers, and authors (their previous book is When Generations Collide) who work with companies as generational experts. In The M-Factor Lancaster and Stillman explore each of the characteristics of Millennials then try to explain how companies can utilize these traits in their Millenial workers and how Millenials can learn to work with coworkers that have a different frame of reference than they do.

Lancaster and Stillman characterize Millennials as having a number of qualities — close and supportive relationships with their parents, a sense of entitlement, a desire for meaning in their work, great expectations for themselves and others, the need for speed, a knack for social networking, and tendency to collaborate on projects. When I read their descriptions I felt like the factors described me really well, so I think that’s a suggestion the authors have done a good job with their research.

Although the book tries to be for people of all generations, I felt like the overall tone leaned more towards how older people can learn to deal with Millennials (specifically the idea that Millennials feel entitled) and less how Millennials should learn, but that’s ok. I’m not sure how many Millennial workers will read a book about generational connections in the work place, although I think they would benefit. The suggestions for how Millennials can adjust their tone and work processes to adapt to other styles made me rethink how I’d previously dealt with conflicts with older coworkers.

Given that I’ll be starting my first real job next week, I think I read this book and the perfect time. The chapter on Millennials and their parents was especially great. Lancaster and Stillman explain how Millennials grew up with very supportive parents who had their back and considered their children in decisions. In turn, Millennials are used to consulting their parents on major decisions and getting feedback from them about their work. Sometimes this relationship isn’t good — parents calling Millennials bosses to ask about a promotion for example — but it’s something to be aware of.

Except for the bad stuff (obviously!), that chapter almost perfectly describes me and my parents. When I got my job offer, they were the first people I told. They’re the first people I ask when I have questions about anything — Where to get car insurance? What does my health care plan mean? How do I cook an egg? — and I expect they’ll give me good feedback. We have a very honest and supportive relationship. While I wouldn’t expect them to talk to my boss, I can imagine consulting them when I have a career question to get feedback and advice.

If you’re at all interested in generational differences or curious about why a particular coworker (older or younger) works the way he or she does, I think this book could be a great resource. The examples are sometimes a little dorky, but overall I learned a lot and would recommend the book.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Amy May 12, 2010, 7:40 am

    Sounds fascinating, I am adding this to my wish list right away. Great review. (Also, 1986 was obviously the coolest year to be born 😉 heh)

    • Kim May 12, 2010, 9:14 am

      Amy: Awesome. And yes, 1986 was the best year to be born in. Everyone born then is especially awesome!

      • Jason May 12, 2010, 5:22 pm

        I agree. 1986 was the best year to be born in, ever, period. All other birth years bow before it.

        • Kim May 12, 2010, 9:13 pm

          Jason: Totally right.

  • Word Lily May 12, 2010, 9:08 am

    I’ve had Millennials working for me in the past, and I wish I’d had this book then. I love finding the generational differences, but I myself feel a little undefined — Sometimes I’m in Gen X, but mostly I’ve been put in Gen Y (which apparently this book, and perhaps others eliminated).

    • Kim May 12, 2010, 9:17 am

      Word Lily: The book says Millennials get referred to as a few different things — Gen Y, GenNext, the Google Generation, the Echo Boom, or the Tech Generation. So I think it sort of depends who you’re talking to when it comes to labels, and labels don’t always work for everyone 🙂 When were you born?

  • seth May 12, 2010, 9:22 am

    Kim! My name is Seth Mattison and I’m one of two Millennials that worked with David and Lynne on this project. Number one thank you for the great review. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Two, as fellow Millennials, Debra and I tried very hard to make sure our (Millennial) point of view came across in the book. I think as a generation we do have some growing up to do but we also have some incredible talents to bring to the workplace. If we can learn to show up and work hard, be respectful of colleagues, and learn to be patient with our careers, I’m convinced we’ll do much better with the other generations in the workplace.

    • Kim May 12, 2010, 9:16 pm

      Hi Seth! I do think the Millennial point of view was well documented in the book, both through the extensive examples and the different quotes used to illustrate points. I think my reaction was more to the way the tips seemed to balance out — the majority seemed to be ways for older workers to work with Millennials rather than for Millennials learning to adjust their behavior. As you say, we do have a lot of growing up to do — reading the book made me rethink ways I’ve dealt with conflicts in the past and how I could have been more respectful of the people I was working with.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my review!

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) May 12, 2010, 2:26 pm

    Sounds interesting to me since my son is a Millennial!

    • Kim May 12, 2010, 9:16 pm

      Kathy: Definitely, I think you’d find this pretty interesting.

  • Debra Fiterman May 13, 2010, 8:53 am

    Hi Kim! It’s Debra who works with Seth and I just wanted to chime in. First of all, you should know that I am a fellow Badger and graduate of the Journalism school…On Wisconsin! Anyway, thank you so much for writing this review. I think your points, both positive and negative are spot on. You are right in that while we tried to offer some advice to Millennials, this book is a little more geared towards their managers. That being said, we are out speaking to our generation to spread the word and help our generation be as successful as possible. Good luck at your first “real job” and definitely let us know when you see generational collisions! We are always looking for great stories. Thanks again–Debra

    • Kim May 22, 2010, 11:47 am

      Hi Debra. Thanks for stopping by! It’s awesome to “meet” another Badger from the J-school, small world. I don’t think there was anything bad about the focus of the book, just something I noticed from my perspective as an employee, not a manager. I’m glad to hear about all the speaking you and Seth are doing — I think that’s important. Thanks again 🙂

  • Julie May 16, 2010, 7:02 pm

    Great review Kim! Even though I don’t work in Corporate America, I know the generational divide definitely happens among teachers as well. I was born in 1981, so I am just at the beginning of the millenial generation, but definitely consider myself one. Everyone at work always calls me a baby! I promised Debra (above noter), my good friend and researcher for the book, that I would go get a copy of it ASAP! I’ll read and review it this summer! What kind of job are you starting? Good luck!

    • Iris May 17, 2010, 5:59 am

      I am stunned to find out that you’re only a year older than I am. I always thought you’d be older since your writing and reviews are so sophisticated!

      I like the idea of this book, and it does sound like a fairly good description of “our generations”, though personally I am fairly bad at group projects, I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist when it comes to school projects for example. Or, as I often think, the other participants might be a little lazy.

      • Kim May 22, 2010, 11:50 am

        Iris: I think ages get hidden online, which is nice, but also surprising for me too! I’m very perfectionist too, but that tends to manifest itself in being bossy or taking charge — I think I do a god job handing off things I’m not good at, which is the kind of collaboration the book talks about. But yeah, I definitely know what you mean.

    • Kim May 22, 2010, 11:49 am

      Julie: I’m starting work at a business magazine based in Madison. it’s pretty exciting to be working and writing, especially given the economy. I can imagine generations make a difference in schools, especially if generational differences translate to teaching differences. I know the feeling of being the “baby” in an office or group of people — I was one of the youngest people in my grad program at UW.