When I started my work life (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), new employees were told to “Fit In” or “F#$% Off” (the earlier version of FIFO which today stands for ‘First In – First Out’ for inventory management).
As I travel around the planet, I keep getting asked the same question by older, Baby Boomer (born 1945 to 1963) and Generation X (born 1964 to 1979) leaders: “What do I do to get the Millennials (born 1980 to 1995) and the generational cohort group, Generation Z (born 1996 to today) to be more focused, loyal, engaged and productive?”
I hear all sorts of adjective descriptors from older leaders of the Millennial group. Narcissistic, entitled, lazy, self-possessed… And that confuses me as I – a Baby Boomer – have found the Millennial group to be enthusiastic, tech-savvy, entrepreneurial and opportunistic.
What’s the difference? I have learned that I am the one that has to change as a leader. The Millennial group of team members will not change – yet.
What do I mean by that? I clearly remember that as a child growing up, the mantra was that children should be seen and not heard. When it came to work, the goal everyone was driving towards was to ‘get a job for life by fitting in, not making waves, keeping one’s head down and do what you were told.’ It was the way we were raised and, as a result, the way our brains became wired. ‘Bosses’ – as we referred to them – were ‘God’ and one never argued with them. Their directives were followed to the letter.
Fast-forward to today and a lot has changed (thankfully). The Millennials have been raised to stand out. They have been told by their parents that they are the most important people on the planet. They even got ‘participation ribbons’ for showing up. They are the product of Baby Boomer and Generation X parents. And now, as leaders, we are perplexed by their attitudes towards work?
The Millennials are not going to change. They are the largest demographic group in history and the most educated as well. They show up at work seeking a few must-haves from a business.
They will be incredibly loyal and hard-working for the organization that provides the above. They will leave without hesitation when the organization and the leaders don’t fit with them.
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.
Click here to get his weekly Tuesday Tune Up blog posts straight to your inbox.Business Culture, Employee Engagement, Employee Retention, Leadership, Millenials, Robert Murray, Robert S. Murray, Values