The millennials, a segment coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe, refers to people born from the 80s to year 2000. A generation that is quite misunderstood. They are accused of being self-absorbed, known for the entitlement that the world revolves around them. Simply put, they are seen as quite different.
Seen as quite different by whose standard?
To be fair, the millennials cannot be expected to conform to the mold or expectations of the generations before them who define work commitment in terms of tenure. It is true that the older generation tend to stay long with one company and are rewarded for their loyalty while millennials thrive in change of work requirements, and setting.
The millennials value their “me-time” and may find it oppressive to render overtime – especially when such practice becomes consistent. For the older generation – to whom overtime is a regular thing and not such a big deal – this work attitude is unacceptable, a misalignment in values and priorities.
The millennials are inspired by action and gratification – and would like to see “quick” advancements in their career. This is definitely not an impressive trait to the older generation who celebrate one’s ‘rising from the ranks’ and would work patiently work hard to get to the top.
So how did millennials become so different? Here are some conjectures:
(1) From a psycho-social perspective, the millennials were raised differently by parents that somehow deplored aspects of their own upbringing. The millennials are born to a generation who found their parents too stern. When they were admonished, they would be spanked; They were not allowed to “answer back”. And so, many ended up doing the complete opposite and provided their children much in terms of positive reinforcement – giving praise at almost every opportunity to instil confidence – these children were admonished gently. Dealing with failures and criticisms was far in between.
(2) The “instant” culture obliterated the virtues of patience and meticulousness. Sadly, even the love for reading books has somehow been compromised. Gone are the days when academic tasks and research required painstaking evaluation of information from various reference books. Now, google is the best friend and abridged information is the answer.
(3) Then, of course, there is social media and proliferation of virtual games that developed the love for individuality and free expression defined by the borderless influence of globalization. The millennials have become very adaptable but not necessarily sensitive to the depth and intricacies of social responsibility and character building.
While to some extent and for many valid reasons, the millennials are generally self-absorbed, they are not devoid of virtues. Indications show that the millennials are passionate about causes that they relate to and find of significant importance. They are brave and bold in taking on challenges, in discovering themselves and the world around them. They have the traits that propel progress. Noteworthy, we see more entrepreneurs among the millennials than from the generation before them.
When coached properly, the millennials are guaranteed assets in the workplace. There is much value in having them in the work place for they create a culture that is in tune with the times. Their creative ideas and independent approach propel growth and transformation. Millennials also provide insights that mature people may fail to see. They make you understand the predominantly young market — a relevant target for most products and services.
So, how do you deal with the millennials? First and foremost, do not measure them according to the yardsticks of previous generations. It is time for a paradigm shift:
- Working long hours in the office is not the gauge for their sense of commitment. Millennials believe in work balance. Help create the work balance by respecting their right to be off after tendering the work hours that they signed up for.
- Encourage recreation “after work”. (e.g., Allow them to organize Pilates, cooking and art classes, and other interests)
- Tap into their passion by recognizing their drive to excel. Provide them with avenues to grow: Trainings that would enable them to enhance themselves. Rather than treating them as “gofers”, involve them in team endeavors: brain storming, research, planning and implementation.
- Allow them to champion causes that the employees can support. For instance, outreach programs for Christmas; aid for disasters, et al.
- Encourage dialogue with them. Empower (with guidance) on how they could find solutions to their concerns and feel that you value their opinions.
- Publicly acknowledge their efforts, when deserving.
Bring out the best in the millennials. Tap TalkShop to train your multi-generational teams and help your managers and senior personnel effectively mentor and coach the new power house in your workforce.
firstname.lastname@example.org l (632) 894 5588 l Managing the Multi-Gen Workforce, Understanding the Millennials, Coaching and Mentoring