July 16, 2013
Lazy, entitled narcissists. As the Time cover story in May described our generation, millennials were painted as we often are – lazy, entitled, and narcissistic. We were dubbed the “Me Me Me” Generation and when compared to the Baby Boomers (the “Me” Generation) I suppose that makes us Really Really Really lazy and narcissistic.
It’s the age-old rant on “the kids these days.”
Just like fires and car crashes make the headlines, so do the “kids” that are spoiled and self-centered. A collaborative, supportive, and flexible generation doesn’t nearly make as interesting of a story as a generation who still lives with their parents, takes “selfies” all day, and dreams of being reality stars.
Now, the Time article by Joel Stein did go full circle to share some positive attributes of the millennial generation towards the end. Although Stein mentions the energy and optimism of millennials, I think it deserves a few more moments to talk about how millennials will change our workplaces for the better.
Like any generation, millennials have some weaknesses we can improve. Even though we have been told we are perfect, we know we are not. Granted, there are a few reasons we are a little more entitled than other generations based on the way we were raised and the digital world in which we grew up. But those points aside, there are quite a few strengths millennials are bringing to the workplace. And they’re pretty headline-worthy.
Millennials are all about working together and making connections. Why work on a project independently, when you can work with a team, pool efforts, and join forces to brainstorm ideas and set strategies? One millennial manager we interviewed for Manager 3.0 talked about her team with great esteem and said, “We float together, and we sink together.” It’s all about the camaraderie and championing a vision together. Millennials will forge strong partnerships and alliances at your organization.
Technology – we live it and breathe it. If we have five seconds of “down time”, you can guarantee we have used that time gap to connect and gain a piece of information about the world. In our book, we talk about how millennials are “digital natives” while other generations are digital immigrants. We grew up with technology; it is ingrained in our lives, so we’re comfortable bringing these skills to the workplace. In our digital world where social media and online image are increasingly important, millennials are equipped to bring ideas and answers right from the start. They are using their tech-savvy nature to connect to results and solutions.
Open to change.
This attribute goes hand-in-hand with technology, but millennials are open to change because they are more accustomed to it. Adapting to change has become somewhat of a habit for millennials. Imagine growing up in a world where a three-month old phone is outdated. Due to the rate in which technology has changed, millennials are more comfortable learning as they go along. In our rapidly changing economy and marketplace where organizations need to be agile and flexible, millennials are positioned well to be adaptable employees and leaders.
Supportive and engaging.
Millennials are energetic, supportive, and helpful. To echo Stein in his Time article, let’s be honest, we’re a pretty nice generation. When we chatted with millennial managers, they said time and time again that they want to build up their people and boost their career growth. They enjoy serving as a coach and mentor and giving their people a leg up in their career. One employee we interviewed said that she wanted to work even harder because she was so inspired by her millennial manager and didn’t want to let her down. When it comes to managing and leading, millennials want their people to grow, learn and excel. They want their team to be truly great and passionate about what they do. Millennials are taking their people to the next level by bringing out the best in them and developing high-performing teams.
Millennials are building workplaces where people love to work. As any generation, millennials have hurdles to face as they chart their way to leadership, but the real story isn’t in the entitlement or the narcissism. That’s been done. That’s been said. That story has been told – over and over and over again.
Think about work in the olden days – command and control, authority issuing orders, decisions from the top, burn out, and the rat race. Now think about the initiatives that millennials are driving – collaboration, support, engagement, mentorship, and balance.
The real story is in the future of work and how millennials really might save us all.
Check out www.manager3point0.com and Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management to continue the conversation. Follow us: @JBTSMillennials @JBTSolutions