Millennials are not driven is phrase that I hear quite often in management meetings. Managers complaining about Millennials and their inability to follow directions, complete tasks, take orders, you name it!
Millennials also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X. I have two sons. One is a Generation X and my younger son is a Millennial. What I find so interesting is that when my older son came to age everybody was bitching about Generation X and now the Gen Xers are finding fault in their successors.
Personally, I only know Millennials who are driven, curious and creative, but I do understand that my view is not a statistical sample. I do wonder though if the “pampered” Millennials were raised by people who were a bit misguided. I really don’t want to point fingers here but I find it hard to believe that an entire generation is viewed as difficult to manage.
Here is the situation though. In the coming decade we will all have to learn to manage the Millennial generation, otherwise we will be in trouble. So, here is the challenge. What do we “older” people have to do in order to successfully guide, nurture and support those Millennials so the end result is success?
WHO ARE THOSE MILLENNIALS?
A Google search showed me the following result:
Nurtured and pampered by parents who didn’t want to make the mistakes of the previous generation, millennials are confident, ambitious, and achievement-oriented. They also have high expectations of their employers, tend to seek new challenges at work, and aren’t afraid to question authority.
Maybe, what we are struggling with is that they are not afraid to ask questions, that they challenge authority and that they are achievement oriented, rather than willing to play the corporate political game to be successful. Most business environments that I am exposed to still operate on a “If you like me, I will promote you” basis and criticism or challenging the status quo is certainly not something that is part of the play book.
Could the resistance of Millennials to comply have something to do with the fact that these kids were pampered? Possibly. But in the end, it doesn’t matter what the reason is. The fact is that we will need to adapt to it.
MAKE IT PLAYFUL AND FUN
In my sales training sessions with Millennials I found them to be curious, attentive and playful. That’s why I always make sure that part of the training involves games and rewards. If I want sales training with Millennials to be successful, it is my responsibility to adjust the content accordingly.
I think part of the reason that Millennials are different is that these “kids” hear about wildfires and floods every day. They are exposed to a world where the traditional media is surpassed by social media presence and the validity and authenticity of both is constantly questioned. Their social security payments are in question, in other words all the things we could rely on are ambiguous concepts for them. It’s unsettling for all people, but especially for those who are at an adult age and know that their children and grandchildren will not have the same living conditions as them and they doubt that the world will be a better place.
THEIR FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN
Yes, I know these doubts and fears were present for all generations. My parents had to struggle through World War II, the Baby Boomers in the US had to live through the Vietnam war, but now the challenges are bigger the consequences graver. While our grandparents and parents always had the hope that there might be light at the end of the tunnel, the outlook for this generation is dark. A planet that is warming up cannot be fixed in a couple of years by a Marshall Plan.
These Millennials are aware of their situation and plight. So, who are we to criticize them for asking questions, challenging the status quo and being confident.
According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials In general, are better educated – a factor tied to employment and financial well-being – but there is a sharp divide between the economic fortunes of those who have a college education and those who don’t.
WE NEED TO ADAPT AND CHANGE OUR APPROACH
Let’s all put our heads together to find ways to help this generation be successful. Maybe we should challenge the status quo and find ways to coach, guide and manage them effectively. They are all we’ve got if we want to build a sustaining future for our companies and for our planet.