What is the single greatest complaint leveled against Millennials?
Many employers would say a “sense of entitlement” that is entirely out of proportion to this generation’s age and experience.
As the authors of “The M-Factor” say, “This generation shows signs of being far too impressed with their own value and importance.”
Now, I acknowledge this trait is tempered by individual personalities. While one Millennial may exude “cockiness and arrogance” that turns off even his/her peers, another one is a model of humility.
Despite their intelligence and competency in many areas, the Millennial has a lot to learn. But, in a different time in a different way, didn’t we all?
Millennials may expect to advance quickly. Once they have mastered their current responsibilities, they want to be promoted to higher positions or greater responsibility NOW.
They often have a very low tolerance for the mundane work that usually falls to the lowest rung of the workplace ladder. They don’t understand the concept of seniority, and to them that is an anathema of their value system. They value capability over experience and believe that a fresh, young perspective is always more valuable.
The ideas of “doing your time” within a role and job and “paying your dues” just do not make sense to them and are at odds with their expectations.
In my mind, members of this generation can be overly-sensitive. This can certainly be a factor in their employment lives.
Let’s remember that many of the parents of the M-Generation believed and practiced that praise and self-esteem were the first priorities in parenting and teaching realms. The child learns that if you play on the little league baseball team, you get a trophy for showing up. Turn in your homework, and get a gold star for turning something in with your name on it regardless of the content.
While effort is important and trying your best is important, life, and certainly the business world, does not necessarily hand out trophies for these worthy attributes.
This article looks at the key criteria necessary to minimize conflict and enhance performance in the work place when working with Millennials.
First, when recruiting and interviewing don’t promise more than you can deliver.
When hiring a member of the M-Generation, be realistic about the work that he will do.
Present a potential M-Generation employee with an exact description of the job. You want to make sure that he/she understands that the job may not include conducting the weekly briefings.
Second, take advantage of the positive view of the M-Generation’s desire to do more and to tackle larger responsibilities.
Take advantage of their eagerness and strong desire to be involved, and reward these traits whenever you can.
Always give M-Generation employees specific parameters to work within, clarify what they will be held accountable for, what the schedule and deadline is, and then let them engage.
Finally, determine what “reward” is in the M-Generation new hire’s mind.
For the Millennial, rewards don’t have to be big to be meaningful. A simple gesture will go a long way. Recently in talking with an Assistant Chief of Police, he told me his Millennials want to be called by their first names, asked about their family (yes, you will need to remember the wife’s name and the kids’ names), and they want to be praised for being to work on time.
Baby Boomers and GenXers are often confused and bewildered by the simple things that Millennials don’t know about living and working as an adult.
Research shows that the most common problems include unfamiliarity with workplace etiquette, what are appropriate communication venues, and what boundaries should exist between professional, personal and private matters.
However, our biggest concerns may be associated with the M-Generations’ use of social media. Often Millennials are not discrete about what they post on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The photos and comments they may put online after a weekend beach trip with their college buddies may cause you some alarm.
To deal with this behavior and not exacerbate the situation or create high blood pressure for yourself, you must learn to accept that is the new “norm” while learning how to negotiate a mutually acceptable working arrangement with these employees.
Does this mean we will just have to agree with such behavior? No.
Although we believe these “kids” should know this stuff already, they don’t. The smart thing to do is to understand the Millennial sense of what is appropriate. Then take the time to communicate the guidelines and rules – written and unwritten – for professional etiquette and interaction in your organization.
The upside to all of this is that most Millennials enjoy being coached and mentored – remember they had a unique relationship with their parents and teachers in this regard. Offer them pointers and tips on workplace etiquette.
You will probably find that they are grateful for advice that will help them move up the professional ladder and achieve the greater responsibilities that they want. It can be a win-win situation.
L. Darryl Armstrong is a crisis prevention and management consultant. He is reachable at 1-888-340-2006 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is www.ldarrylarmstrong.com. He is available on a limited basis for speaking engagements and workshops.
Sources: The M- Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace” by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman (Harper Collins, 2010)
PWC.Com – Millennials in the Work Place – Reshaping the World https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/managing-tomorrows-people/future-of-work/assets/reshaping-the-workplace.pdf