Millennials have probably been the most criticised generation to enter the workforce. They however now need to be taken very seriously and here’s why …
Mention Millennials to most Boomer or older Gen X managers, and they’ll inevitably roll their eyes, huff and puff, and grit their teeth. That’s because the Millennials have been stereotyped as narcissistic, self-absorbed, pampered and immature.
The irony of this response is often lost on the Boomers because they fail to see that, generally speaking, as a generation they created the Millennials to be what they are. You see, most Millennials are Boomers’ babies. In their early career years, the Boomers quickly matured into very competent workers, managers and leaders. But, as with many successful people and companies, their success became their downfall. They were so competent at what they did that they unintentionally raised children to be dependent on their parents for a lot longer than any other generation in the history of mankind.
A few years ago now, Millennials started moving into the workplace only to find that things are not like they were at home. They were actually expected to DO something to get praise and get paid.
Now, many PR companies are feverishly putting out press releases trumpeting the fact that in the next however many years, the workforce will consist of such and such a percentage of Millennials. The percentages thrown around include 25%, 50% or higher, depending on how far in advance they wish to predict and how much they want to shock their audience.
What none of them seem to realise is that talking about how many Millennials will be in the workplace in five or so years’ time is stating the obvious – like saying, “Did you know that, in five years’ time, we’ll all be five years older?”
There are already a whole bunch of Millennials in the workplace and it’s a given that the number will exponentially increase. What PR companies should be focusing on is the need to train those Millennials to be competent managers and leaders because, like it or not, the Millennials are the ones who are going to be your company’s managers and leaders in the next few years.
So, in the words of all the so-called future experts, if you want to be “future fit”, you need to grow, develop and train your Millennials.
Having worked with Millennials ever since they’ve been called Millennials, I have come to understand some deep truths about them. Some of those truths are fairly common knowledge – like their desire to grow – and some of those truths are not – like the fact that there’s actually a split in the Millennial camp. They don’t see themselves as one homogeneous group. The older Millennials (those now in their early 30s) have picked up a little experience that has taught them a few things about life, and they feel their younger counterparts don’t know and understand these things yet. For example, senior Millennials (they’ll probably hate me for calling them this) claim that they find themselves frequently telling the junior Millennials that they need to be prepared to work hard in order to progress up the ranks and that they can’t expect to be the CEO after two weeks.
This shows that all is in order with the human race. It’s still a fact of life that, as people grow up and gain a little life experience, not all but many of them start to learn some common sense and acquire a little wisdom, making them suitable candidates to start leading others.
My point? Start taking your older Millennials a lot more seriously. Don’t stereotype them and fail to see that they’ve actually been doing a bit of maturing. That’s a good thing for the company. What you need to do is give them the opportunity to learn some sound, basic management skills – skills you may, with all your experience, simply take for granted.
When you give them the opportunity to learn such skills through informal or formal training methods, you will (not may) be surprised by the results. The good news is that the Millennials are finally growing up and need to be taken seriously. After all, they’re the ones who are going to be leading your company in the future!
Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag. He is a recognised authority on leadership skills for the future and teaches business leaders and managers of all generations how to lead with integrity, purpose and agility. He was named by US-based web site Disruptordaily.com as one of the “Top 25 Future of Work Influencers to Follow on Twitter”.