One of the requirements of any manager is to gain an understanding of the people who work under their supervision. It’s been true of every generation, and it’s especially true today.
|Simon Sinek dissects Millennials on YouTube|
Millennials have been the topic of articles about management and the workplace for nearly a decade, believe it or not. They’re essentially the generation born in the 1980s and ‘90s, give or take a few years here and there. And they began entering the workforce in large numbers shortly after the turn of the century, which was also the start of a new millennium – hence the tag they’ve been labeled with.
Last fall a video went viral across social media platforms, in which author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek took millennials to task for being “tough to manage.” He listed a number of things of which they’re accused of being: entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused, and lazy. He proceeds to explain the phenomenon of the millennial generation, while acknowledging that their alleged character weaknesses are often created through no fault of their own. The video is both humorous and thought-provoking, which makes it fascinating to watch.
I would suggest, however, that we would do well to change our thinking about Millennials. I recommend to my clients that they look at them for who and what they are: young professionals. In other words, treat them just as you have any generation that has come along. Treat them with regard, and trust, and patience. They have much to learn, but what generation hasn’t?
In fact, Sinek agrees, to a certain extent. In the video, he doesn’t reserve his comments only for the Millennials themselves. He also criticizes parents, corporate managers and executives for their lack of leadership. “It’s the corporations, it’s the corporate environments, it’s the total lack of good leadership in our world today that is making them feel the way they do,” Sinek warns.
In working with companies, and with Millennials themselves, I try to help them bridge the gap between college and career. Like any group entering the workforce, networking is essential – or, as I like to call it, “networking on steroids.” Today’s young people are so accustomed to technology, and to interacting with others via various electronic devices, that it’s more important than ever for them to learn the essentials of developing meaningful interpersonal relationships, face to face.
Millennials should be asked what they view as their strengths, and what they want to accomplish – both in their career and in life. Like the generations that preceded them, they are altruistic, wanting to make a difference in the world. That’s great, but they also need to consider how they can do that in their career, and for the organization or company where they work. Patience isn’t always a virtue among young professionals, and it’s up to us as managers to help them see the value and wisdom in it.
There is so much more that can be said and written about Millennials. In fact, a major part of my consulting practice involves coaching sessions with Millennials, and their employers. If you’d like to know more, feel free to give me a call at (330) 754-5767, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Ondrus is president and CEO of JA Ondrus, LLC. Learn more at www.leadershiptransitioning.com.