It seems lately that everywhere I go someone at the leadership level is complaining about a Millennial that is working for them or one that they have recently interviewed. The complaints are nothing new and sound like this:
-These kids don’t want to work!
-They want to be the VP in 6 months!
-The only questions they had were about time off, vacation days and free snacks in the break room!
-And my personal favorite- These kids just don’t get it!
If any of these sound familiar you are not alone, and if this sounds at all like you, then I will ask you one another question.
How is your attitude towards these young individuals working for you?
Because one thing is for certain – The Millennials are coming and they won’t stop coming so you can either learn about how to best utilize this talented, energetic young workforce or you can end up with the same fate as that Blackberry smartphone you once cherished and swore you’d never give up on.
Statistically Millennials- those born somewhere around 1985-2000 will comprise 51% of the workforce by 2020- and by 2025 three out of every four workers globally will be a Millennial. So unless you plan to retire by that time than you may want to read on.
First off let’s take a look 3 common Myths out there about our young friends.
They just don’t want to work. – Are you aware that 54% of Millennials have started or will make a run at starting a small business? You and I both know that about 50% of these businesses will fail within the first 4 years and over half of those will not last another 5 years. So tell me, does that sound like someone that’s not willing to work?
Also would you like someone on your team that has made a run at starting a small business and understands just how hard it is to make it work? Wouldn’t you also want someone on your team that has an entrepreneurial spirit and not afraid to make a run at it on the own should the circumstances be right.
The real challenge is going to be keeping them in your old school business culture and engaging them enough to want to keep working for you? These kids have no loyalty to any organization because they’ve seen just how far loyalty to the company has gotten their unemployed parents and grandparents.
Please don’t confuse wanting to work, with wanting to work for you. This fact alone will force you to gain some new skill-sets to become a better leader- which isn’t necessarily a bad thing- unless of course YOU are unwilling to work.
Millennials are Technology geniuses-This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. For some reason Boomers and my Gen X cohorts all seem to believe that every Millennial has the tech savvy of Mark Zukerberg and the ability to create the next big technology innovation.
The fact is Millennials have grown up with technology and are quite comfortable using it in the workplace and in there everyday lives. For us to believe that each of them is a technology genius would be the same as me saying –“Well you know how to drive a car so you should be able to build one right?”Many Boomers and Gen X’ers are what I like to refer to as digitally intimidated.
We may find it harder to adapt to new technology and software and we definitely find it much harder to integrate or master. Most of our Millennial friends have an easier time making the adjustments necessary to adapt and roll with technology updates and new ways of using technical functions in the workplace again making them valuable additions to our teams.
They want to be the VP in 6 months– Look these kids want to be successful, they want to get to the next level- is that such a bad thing? The biggest difference between them and us is that they simply want you to outline a roadmap that will cause it to happen.
Our mentality was simply put your head down and power through and that worked for us, but these kids aren’t like us- they don’t live to work they work to live. If they don’t see some sort of path to get away from the mundane existence you have outlined for them, then they may not be interested in your grind it out and hope for the best strategy for success.
The other thing that these Millennials will require is on-going feedback on their performance and how they are measuring up. This isn’t their fault as most of their high schools and colleges gave them instant access to their homework and grades. They are also used to posting on social media and getting instant feedback on if it’s good or not good. They crave the immediacy of knowing and getting a “like” or a “Thumbs up”- so your old school mentality of a yearly performance review with a numbered scale of 1-5 or satisfactory/non-satisfactory simply isn’t going to cut it for these kids.
I’ve heard is said by marketers and social scientists that every generation seems to have the biggest challenge with the generation that comes immediately after it. I’m a Gen X’er and if you remember- we were referred to as the “Slacker” generation, raised on television, MTV. We were the latch-key kids with no after-school supervision and going nowhere. Well we all turned out ok (most of us anyway) and I’m quite certain we drove our Boomer parents and Bosses crazy with our ideas of right, wrong and the “man” that was keeping us down.
At some point the Boomers had to adjust their work ways to accommodate us, but if you were to ask you honestly- did you really care if they did or not? Of course not, you probably did what you were gonna do regardless.
Well the same thing is happening today. The old is giving way to the new- it’s the law of evolution, and we can either force feed our mindset and our ways of thinking that worked so well for us onto this generation and hope for the best- or we can make those slight adjustments and Quarter Turns to accommodate our Millennial friends and more importantly tap into the energy and excitement they can bring into our workplaces.
Believe or not- the choice is yours because one thing if for certain
The Millennials are coming and they won’t stop coming!
Thoughts for the week:
-Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it – George Orwell
-We need to remember across generations that there is as much to learn as there is to teach. – Gloria Steinem
-Each generation wants new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors. – Jim Morrison
-Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it. –Haim Ginott
-There is only one thing wrong with the younger generation. A lot of us don’t belong to it anymore. –Bernard Baruch
The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. – Abraham Lincoln
Looking forward to our next conversation…