I recently attended an event where a gentleman seemed to have all of the answers about the Millennial generation. I was a bit taken aback by his sheer arrogance. Let’s be honest, this guy probably gathered a bunch of statistics from the Internet, maybe watched a couple YouTube videos and/or TED Talks, and proceeded to hang a proverbial sign around his own neck referring to himself as an “expert” when it comes to my generation. That makes you an expert these days? C’mon man.
When I walked in the room, there were a couple of handouts that were provided to the audience that I found incredibly insulting. They listed the “Top 10 Must-Knows About Millennials.” What is this — The Letterman Show? They also provided a list of “steps” that you need to take when working with Millennials. What are we — a recipe?! I understand that none of this was done out of ill will. Ignorance, however, is no longer an acceptable excuse.
Since we’re discussing these ridiculous step-by-step instructions, I need to share one of my own: Treat us like a freaking human being! Let’s start with that. All the handouts in the world and self-proclaimed “experts” that gather all of this big data are creating more of a gap than a bridge.
It seriously drives me insane that we are still having this conversation and talking about a generation of people like we aren’t humans. Everything you read about Millennials is more of a “how-to” guide. “Tips to working with Millennials.” “How to engage your Millennial employees.” “How to manage this new generation of workers.” What are we — a group of recluses? Again, I understand this is not being done out of spite and we appreciate the effort — but really? A handout?!
C’mon man — these steps/tips/guides are not working and the statistics back it up!
Let’s look at the bigger picture. The challenge isn’t whether or not you abide by the rules that some survey monkey pushes out. The real challenge is how you transition your business into the 21st century — which, whether you like it or not, includes the Millennial generation. Whether your industry is blue collar or white collar, people are people, and you’re still going to have to develop them!
Developing talent has always been the competitive advantage in any line of work. We need to stop using 20th-century tools in the 21st century. Printing handouts with tips on how to handle a group of people is an incredible insult. (If you are a Baby Boomer and saw a handout that generalized your generation how insulted would you be?!) We are missing the boat here! The absent link is the ability to lead and develop people. Closing this gap and creating a competitive advantage in the 21st century won’t happen with handouts & surveys.