As I travel to one client to the next, one errand to another and one social situation to the next, I constantly hear people from the other generations exclaim in frustration and bewilderment, "Millennials!!" Their behavior and attitudes shock and astound us. As does their apparent disregard for authority and what appears to us as laziness. Of course, there are many exceptional people born within the time frame of the Millennial generation that aren't like that, so I don’t want to paint everyone under 35 with this broad brush. However, it is an issue and there is a need to deal with it.
Way back in the day a work life started with an entry level position. There were dress codes and standards of behavior when working in a professional environment and ways to achieve success. Looking to start a career, we were grateful for whatever position and salary was offered and we tried our best to earn credentials, work our way up to better pay and positions. This was typically the only way to build a career. We all knew it and respected the process – experience was earned and valued and this was how to get it.
For those of us mid-career or more, we are scratching our heads wondering what the heck happened and why the newbies don’t respect the process or think they are entitled to pay, titles, offices, longer vacations, etc. at the start of their career rather than earn them as we did.
WHY MILLENIALS PERCEIVE THEIR WORLD DIFFERENTLY
First off, in their lifetime vast technological advances are ordinary. The news is full of teenagers and college dropouts that create businesses and become millionaire CEOs. Why wouldn’t they think they could be Director, VP or higher, right out of college or if they even needed college at all?
Secondly, if you were to watch any of the shows for kids 7 and over as well as popular TV shows and movies, you will notice that actors portraying CEOs and executives look like they are 18-21 years old and dress like a Kardashian or a gangsta in any workplace. So why wouldn’t a young person think they could do the same? Additionally, the one liners, the "burns" and the laugh tracks underscoring the genius of the youngster and the feeble mind of any adult, can certainly be heard in the way and attitude people under 35 speak to others of all ages.
Thirdly, this one is a bit difficult to admit. You see I am a mom and like most of my contemporaries, I found extracurricular enrichment programs and scheduled all playdates and activities for my children, made sure they had what they needed and shuttled them around in a breathless dash of timed precision. All the kids had to do was be taken and show up and they got a trophy for that too. Just showing up. Not winning, playing well or anything at all. No planning necessary on their part, no work needed, no need to improve skills – nothing.
And then my personal pet peeve – a parent asking their young child to make decisions about what and when they wanted to eat, sleep, go on vacation and pretty much anything at all. This alone ensured that their mind set of entitlement was deeply embedded before developing cognitive skills to make decisions, understand consequences or have any life experience to draw from. Little surprise they grew up thinking they are the boss or at least equal to the boss. They were.
One more thing – parents and teachers alike spoon feed information, give 15 minute, then 10 minute, then 5 minute warnings, reiterated and followed up for them. The result, these young people truly believe if it were something they needed to do, they will be told and if they don’t hear about it again, they assume it’s not important. Crazy I know but I have heard this – often.
First, I think it's necessary to always be mindful of how these behaviors and mindsets were created and most importantly, understand that THEY don't understand why you are so putt off, this is normal behavior and expectations for them.
The rest of us have got to take a different approach if we ever want to have our businesses and our civilization continue successfully. We need to change how we manage and teach. It will take time, but I’ve seen these people. Most of them are quick learners. They are used to having so much information coming at them through technology, they can pick up fast. Taking our time to manage their training and specifically lay out the expectations of the position as well as behavior and the steps to career growth. Nothing is implied and absolutely nothing should be assumed. We are living on the same planet but in an entirely different universe.