I recently watched an interview with Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace, particularly in the challenges of managing millennials. Being a millennial myself, I was more interested in what older generations think our millennials want in the workplace.
Sinek discusses the four reasons that it’s not our “fault” that we’re entitled and difficult to manage. He cites helicopter parents, technology, environment, and impatience. We’ve grown up with the idea that we can have whatever we want in life and that information we need should be available to us instantly. These things made us destined for this negative future we hold. Apparently, Millennials were thrust into the real world without any actual preparation for it. According to Sinek, we never had to really deal with failure, being told no, or not getting something we wanted even though we put in some effort for it. The participation medals we won for coming in last place are to blame! The sobering part of this is that we’re told we are ready for the real world when we graduate from college. But actually, we really aren’t. Sounds like a pretty rough road ahead.
There’s hope though, especially if our managers can understand our strengths and weaknesses and help us accordingly. Unfortunately, Millennials need to learn some basic skills that we haven’t had much opportunity to practice yet. Like, being patient and persevering in the face of failure. We are optimistic and want to be part of something meaningful. It is so common for Millennials to leave a job because we don’t feel valued or like we’re making a difference. Our managers must find ways to help us see that making an impact takes time, while also developing ways for us to affect change in the short-term. Not an easy task.
Although Millennials get a bad rap, this cannot be a new issue that management faces. While we may be confusing for our Baby Boomer and Generation X leaders, think back to how older generations received the Baby Boomers. They were puzzling to the Traditionalists, and pushed the envelope for change. They challenged the status quo and forced their management to consider things in a new way, like being more open to women in the workplace.
I imagine that these generational differences are cyclical in nature. Each generation of management struggling with the newer generation of employees. I think about the young kids today who I will have to manage someday; the ones who think pages get turned by swiping a screen and who don’t know a world without social media. That will present unique challenges.