All I’ve been hearing lately is “If you have some millennials in your organization [collective groan] I can tell you right now that they won’t want to do x, y, and z.”
I’ll be at a networking session, and the featured speaker (someone in their 50s, typically) spends hours trying to teach us how to best work with these foreign creatures, this entirely new breed of human that must be coddled and given at least 200 days off each year.
Not once have I heard anyone talk about the opportunity that each new generation brings to an organization.
This is a group of people that reached adolescence at a time when technology was in the mainstream. Because of this, most of them (“them”) have an understanding and level of comfort with technology that far surpasses any other age group.
This, of course, makes the older folks nervous. How can they possible adapt so quickly??
And then, in the same way that the Baby Boomers expertly identified everything that is wrong with Gen X-ers, the Gen X-ers have expertly identified everything that is wrong with Millennials to explain it all away.
The list usually looks something like this:
1) Millennials are not loyal—don’t expect them to stick around.
2) The whole generation consists of painfully short attention spans—don’t expect them to focus.
3) They have an overwhelming sense of entitlement—don’t expect them to work for the praise they so desperately crave.
4) Millennials have no respect for authority—don’t expect them to look up to you.
5) These kids simply cannot work by themselves—don’t expect them to perform outside of a team.
“Now,” the featured speaker will tell me after working his way through this list, “there will be some exceptions to these rules. …But…in most cases they’re terrible workers so, you know, don’t bother.”
[Insert grumbles of agreement with copious references to incorrigible children that these very same people have hovered over for years and years.]
I’m being facetious, of course, but the focus of these presentations never fails to astound me. You see, as far as I’m concerned, good management transcends all generations.
Rather than looking down our noses and trying to dissect how far the human race has declined, why aren’t we focused on adapting to the special and entirely new set of skills that these young people has to offer? Why aren’t we looking at individuals, and what they can contribute to the whole?
Leaders lead. Organizations gain new staff members, and as the dynamic of the workforce changes, the workplace must adapt to the talent at hand.
So calm down, people. If you know how to bring the best out of your teammates, you won’t have any problems working with people of any age—“Millennials” included.
[xyz-ihs snippet="1"]Do you have Millennials in your office? Disagree with my analysis? Email me![xyz-ihs snippet="2"]