Before we even dive deep, let's first see who is in which category of this social construct of generational nicknames. This is based on a recent report by Pew Research Center published in March 2018.
I attended a conference today on millennials. But, the insights that I gathered from it aren't anything new. It's the same old blame game going on. No one is ready to take responsibility for them. Government can't provide them jobs/a platform for them to flourish; industry cannot find a fitment for them and academics cannot give them a platform to learn new, advanced skills required for the fourth industrial revolution. We have created the systems, we have set things in place; so now here we have a generation of highly capable people who have been considered as misfit in the corporate world and otherwise. Let's wake up! The real issue may not be what has been discussed over the years. We are trying to solve something without even taking into account the perspective of the millennials. Are we ready to take the responsibility of creating these misfits (as you say), in our very own space?! Are we ready to talk about the real issues here? If yes, let me spin your thinking a bit here.
We have tagged millennials as misfit because of our inability to understand them and because we are unable to control them the way we want to. Millennials are highly informed and educated people, thanks to technology. They get what they want at the flick of a second unlike the other generations. Leadership, for generations, have been authoritative and control freak. There were very few cases where leaders inspired others to bloom, accepted them the way they are and challenged them to grow. Millennials love different form of leadership. Actually, they like that leadership which creates leaders and not followers. We too would like to have that leadership but we remain satisfied with what we have, known and are used to. Titles, positions and years of experience cannot elicit respect for you from them. What matters is how genuine and inspirational your experience is. Let them decide whether they want to follow you or not. They aren't job hoppers but risk-takers who derives clarity by engaging in things unlike the other generations who stuck to one way because of their conditioning & social ways. They will remain and be engaged only when you give them a platform to utilize their gifts and satisfy their deeper needs which can be any of them: variety, certainty, love/connection, significance, contribution and growth. I have spoken to many millennials myself, I did it today too while driving back from the conference. During the conversation, I was told that they are ready & willing to go beyond their call of duty if it connects to them and if you treat them well. If they realize that you genuinely care for them, they will also be genuine in their approach to you. Human connect is missing. They want to feel valued. They don't want to follow anybody just because you ask them to follow but because they can see the value themselves. They want to enjoy life. They have seen their parents working hard and saving for future without enjoying life. They don't want to live that way but to enjoy life in the moment, right here, right now. Things aren't permanent. In a volatile world, things change. They know this very well. They have learnt to adapt to this VUCA environment. They don't want to stand in long queue when they know how to use technology to their advantage. They aspire for a easy, carefree, purposeful and happy life. They can see when you fake it.
What do we want the millennials to be, is the big question?! Do you want them to be like Gen X, baby boomers, any other generation or accept them the way they are, drop the judgement which comes from our limited thinking; leverage their strengths and work on the areas that they too are struggling with?! Their level of impatience comes from the technological & social environment they have been exposed to. Now when things have become challenging, it's not enough to just blame them and dust our responsibilities off. Just tagging them as misfit is not enough. Let's empathize with them and then truly find a solution to maximize the potential of millennials. Let's together take responsibility. The space that we have given them to bloom also needs a review, the environment which conditioned their ways; variety & information overload that reduced their attention span needs a review too. Can we create an environment where the gifts of millennials and all other generations will be utilized to create a better workforce and a better community? If need be, we need to dismantle what we created, reflect on our perspectives, our conditioning too and also try & understand each other. Let's stop pin pointing their flaws, enough has been said on that. Let's look at helping them overcome their challenges.
I am a Gen X, 1 year short of falling into the millennial generation. May be I can relate more to this generation and hence thought of penning down my thoughts around the perception around millennials. Let's accept them and instead of trying to change them, let's hear them to find better solutions for solving their challenges. Let them open up. Don't tell them, ask them. They will answer.
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals