There is a lot of talk these days from leaders about “what exactly do we do with these Millennial employees?” and how leaders should deal with the generational divide. I hear comments about how Millennials (or Gen Y) are lazy, entitled, narcissistic, not loyal, spoiled, needy, lacking in social skills, etc. I rarely hear people saying they LOVE working with Millennials the way I do.
I have leaders telling me that they have never experienced a generational divide so vast as the one we have with Millennials. This may be true. But… hasn’t there always been a generational divide of some sort? Did the G.I. Generation really understand the Baby Boomers? I am a Baby Boomer, and I remember growing up and hearing adults saying that we would never amount to much with all this free love and drug smoking that was going on. At my first real job interview with the hiring manager, he told me: “We work hard around here. I don’t have time for any feelings. No ‘Hippie’ behaviour either. No complaining. Just sit down and do what you’re told. And… get a haircut before you come back tomorrow!”
There was constant talk about the ‘Generational Divide.’
This month, I have a series of blogs for you about just exactly how you can get the most out of a Millennial team member. This first one is all about understanding.
Millennials are different than any other generation in history (but then again, the older generation thought that about Boomers). Millennials have grown up in a world without knowing what it was like before computers, cell phones, the internet, 900 channels on TV and instant everything. They were raised by ‘Helicopter Parents’ always hovering close by to solve any little problem that popped up (I blame Baby Boomers for that). They were told they were special and that they could achieve anything they wanted in life.
Parents were hyper-involved in Millennials schooling – often fighting furiously to have poor marks overturned or having special privileges for their kids. Parents were involved in any aspect of a school day… sports day (where everyone got a participation ribbon), lunch programs, school theatre, etc. The results have been a total loss of respect for a Teacher’s authority. This has resulted in a generation of adults that suffer from low self-esteem when they hit the workforce because there is no one there to hug them for showing up.
Technology has also created a huge problem for Millennials. The age of Social Media – where everyone posts constantly about how ‘great their lives are’ has created a need to be followed and ‘liked’ via social media. It has created a generation of ‘addicts’ hooked on the dopamine effect of an incoming text or reply to a post.
But what can I – the leader in the workplace – do about all this? How can leaders navigate the generational divide? After all, Millennials make up the biggest demographic population in the world and you cannot escape the fact that you will have a Millennial workforce. In the next three blogs, I will give you the straight goods on why I LOVE working with Millennials and how they have an untapped goldmine of potential to offer – loyalty and leadership being just two of their strengths. If you’re not already signed up, click here and get the blogs right to your inbox.
Robert Murray is a Vancouver, BC based Business Strategy Consultant, #1 Best Selling Author, and International Keynote Speaker. For further advice, insight and inspiration on how to unlock your inner leader, follow Robert on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
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