It's not uncommon to hear baby boomers and Gen Xers express frustration about Millennials in the workforce. Labels like 'disloyal,' 'impatient,' and 'unleadable' often surface in these conversations. However, it's essential to reflect on the differences in upbringing that have shaped this generation and not let stereotypes and misconceptions form an unconscious bias about millennials.
Our own youthful rebellion led to distinct generational identities. In contrast, today's parents have adopted a more equal, supportive approach. They've provided extensive educational opportunities, far beyond what earlier generations enjoyed. These parents have instilled in their children a profound belief that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
Moreover, this new generation has been raised with a treasure trove of gadgets and technology, a stark contrast to our own experiences. While this may seem indulgent, it reflects a desire to give their children more than they themselves had in their youth.
Labelling different generations is a reflection of the rapid societal changes, with each era shaped by its unique environment. We, too, sought to change the status quo in our time, rejecting the authority of our parents. Our parenting style was an attempt to rectify the perceived neglect we experienced while growing up in larger families.
Rather than placing blame, let's celebrate the qualities that Millennials bring to our society and workforce, qualities that are a direct result of their unique upbringing:
Are critical thinkers because they were encouraged to voice their opinions.
Understand the importance of trust in relationships and apply this trust to various interpersonal connections.
Value open communication, recognizing its role in building trust and achieving common goals.
Embrace flexibility, encouraged by the sharing economy, and make sustainable life choices.
Possess a profound desire to make a meaningful impact, fueled by critical thinking and quality education.
Seek opportunities to do good and contribute to a better world through their work.
In essence, Millennials challenge us to be the best versions of ourselves. Rather than blaming them for their unique qualities, let's appreciate and harness the strengths they bring to our ever-evolving world.
So, how can we make the most of these qualities for Millennials in the workforce?
1. Mentorship Programs: Implement mentorship programs that facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience from older generations to Millennials. This can bridge the generation gap and help them adapt more seamlessly to the workplace.
2. Encourage Lifelong Learning: Leverage Millennials' thirst for knowledge by promoting continuous learning and professional development. Create an environment that encourages and supports ongoing education and skill enhancement.
3. Flexibility and Innovation: Embrace Millennials' flexibility and innovation by fostering a work culture that values adaptability, creative problem-solving, and fresh perspectives. Their inclination to think critically and make a real impact can drive positive change in your organization.
4. Social Responsibility: Encourage a sense of social responsibility in the workplace. Provide opportunities for employees, including Millennials, to engage in initiatives that contribute to the greater good. This aligns with their desire to make a meaningful impact and can enhance your company's reputation.
5. Feedback and Recognition: Recognize and appreciate the contributions of Millennials in the workforce. Regular feedback and recognition can motivate them and help build a positive work environment.
By embracing and nurturing the qualities that Millennials bring to the workforce, we can create a more dynamic, innovative, and socially responsible workplace that benefits both individual career growth and the organisation's overall success. It's time to move beyond the labels and unlock the incredible potential of this generation.
By Mette Johansson, founder of MetaMind Training, author of “How to Make Yourself Promotable – 7 skills to help you climb the career ladder” and speaker on leadership topics, including Authentic Leadership – “Unmask The Leader Within”
*This article was first published in the Huffington Post.