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We often hear how some companies are adjusting their work environments to get the most out of the millennial generation. There are even manuals published on how to manage them and what makes them tick. Amongst institutions, the military may be considered one of the most rigid, and even they are changing some things around in order to better take advantage of the skills millenials possess. Starting this month, US Army is revamping its basic training and it is no longer what it used to be; no more screaming drill sergeants, fewer power point presentations and no more mock fighting with bayonets.
In addition to behavioral changes, millenials have also been raised differently than previous generations accounting for some major differences that can’t be ignored. More recruits have grown up with highly structured activities rather than free play, they’ve had divorced parents or over involved “helicopter” parents, and there’s less emphasis on competition. Values training aims to tap into recruits’ sense of wanting to make a change.
In the true spirit of innovation and connecting with millenials, Army’s pilot program will issue smart phones to those training so they can read training literature using an application on the phones and arrive at basic training already knowing some of the basics.
The changes are happening in a response to new recruits arriving at the Army’s basic training locations softer in body, mind and spirit but far more technologically savvy than previous generations and with a greater sense of purpose. But the Army was “using old methodologies to train on the battlefield,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who is in charge of the overhaul. “So we had to adjust what we’re training and how we’re training it.”
Army leaders were inspired by Tony Wagner’s book “The Global Achievement Gap,” which describes how the educational system isn’t producing workers prepared for the demands of corporate America. Hertling said recruits weren’t meeting the standards of the military, either, at a time when soldiers were needed for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Basic training also includes a component on values such as integrity and loyalty, which Hertling said many recruits don’t pick up as readily as they used to.
This is truly a generation that will opt out. They don’t quit; they just go do something else,” Hertling said. “But if trained right, these are the best soldiers imaginable.”
It is encouraging seeing that the Army is looking to capture the best qualities millenials can offer and adjusting training to fit the needs for today’s battles. Considering how much research has been put in how to properly handle millenials it is interesting to think about that even the military had to adjust their ways in order to help them reach their full potential.