I have more than a passing interest in all-things-Millennial, partly because my children are Generation Z, which is the generational cohort following the Millennials, and partly because Millennials are disrupting "business as usual" like a tidal wave. Generally agreed to have been born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s to early 2000s, Millennials (or Generation Y) have some very different traits than Baby Boomers and those of Generations X and Z (which "sandwich" them).
There is a tremendous amount of information available about Millennials and the differences between these generational groups, so I won’t rehash that here. However, I wanted to share an article written by J.T. O’Donnell, Founder and CEO, CareerHMO.com, because I believe that she captures some very important points, including some which differ from conventional thinking. Her article follows here:
Let me begin by stating if you looked at the first eight years of my own career, you’d call me a Millennial. I job jumped, largely because I was frustrated by the lack of connection I felt to my work. However, unlike the Millennial parents of today who encourage their children to never settle, I remember the first time I called my parents and said I was quitting my job. They were mortified, convinced I was ruining my life. In their words, "You’ve only been there a year. You need to stay at least five years or your credibility will be damaged." I’m glad I didn’t listen.
Underemployment breeds contempt.
When I look back on those early days, I can remember instances where I thought I could do my manager’s job. In fact, I’d argue it became the main motivator for moving on from a job or two. Fast forward today, and the years have enlightened me. If I could go back, I’d have some apologies to make. They say our strengths are our weaknesses. My passion and drive to create a career that satisfied me was a good thing, but at times, it also made me impatient and short-sighted.
Millennials today have a 26 percent underemployment rate. We all know what it feels like to be underutilized–it’s depressing. As a result, over 30 percent want to leave their jobs within a year. Unfortunately, the older workforce managing Millennials doesn’t have much compassion for their plight. Millennials are getting fired for their differing attitudes towards work–and it’s creating a lot of heated discussions. The result? A large group of Millennials who feel they could do their bosses’ jobs.
Here’s why millennials think that can do your job better.
I’m sure managers reading this are thinking, "Good luck! They wouldn’t last a week in my shoes." But, before you dismiss their desire to steal your job as nonsense, you may want to take a moment to understand why they feel the way they do. Put yourself in a Millennial’s shoes and you just might learn a thing or two about the right way to motivate them:
1. They’ve never been managed.
Millennials have been working in teams their entire lives. They’ve had "coaches" – and that’s very different than having a manager. Coaches support you, train you, guide you, compliment you, and most importantly, take a big interest in your success. If you haven’t been doing that for your Millennial employees, they struggle to see the point of your role. They understand you have a job to do, but in their minds, the biggest part of your job is helping them do theirs’ better.
2. They’re used to having their minds read.
Good coaches are like mind-readers. They get inside the heads of the people they’re coaching and tap into their potential. Your Millennial workforce is expecting the same from you. They think they shouldn’t have to tell you they’re bored, worried, confused, or struggling. Moreover, they’re ill-equipped to have those awkward, stressful conversations with you. Besides, you’re older and wiser, you’re supposed to step in and help them. That’s what their coaches did. If you haven’t been anticipating their thoughts and feelings, they see you as failing in your job to get the most out of them.
3. They’re not used to not having a say.
Millennials have always been encouraged to participate. That includes speaking their mind. They’re used to being solicited for their thoughts and opinions. Instead of being told what to do, they’ve often had open discussions so they could come to their own conclusions as to what is the right thing to do. It’s how they come to trust the process. When you don’t give them that opportunity, they feel slighted of their rights. If you’ve been the type of manager who when asked, "Why?" says, "Because I said so!" – you’ve likely lost the trust (and, respect), of your Millennial workers.
To sum it up, if you want to build a better relationship with your Millennial workers, you need to put on your coaching cap. It’s easy to say, "I’m paying them to do a job, I shouldn’t have to coach them too." But, remember this: every job is temporary. Now that Millennials make up over half our workforce, there could come a day when that Millennial employee could be connected to a company you want to work for. At which point, will they remember how you patiently helped them in the early years of their career? I’m just saying… you get what you give.
Note: another article that I recommend regarding Millennials is by Jovana Husic, a BlessingWhite Consultant. Click here to read "Misunderstood Millennial Behaviors (And What They Mean for Your Organization!)"