You may have read the facts:
83 million millennials are in the United States. That’s 36% of our workforce today and 75% by 2025.
How do we best connect with this next generation?
How do we attract and retain them?
What’s the best way to care about their success?
Dan Negroni’s new book, Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace, tackles the challenge. Dan is the CEO of launchbox, an attorney, a sales and marketing executive, and an expert on the millennial generation. I recently asked him about his work empowering the next generation.
Understand the Generational Divide
Is today’s generational divide greater than the ones that have come previously?
Yes, the difference surrounds how this generation was raised versus others. The first difference is technology. The rapid change in it and the connectivity in the world and dynamics of social media have changed the nature of who we are and how we interact. We have focused less on the interpersonal and more on the phone or device as a means of communication together with the immediacy of action. This generation wants action and now. Millennials are not schooled in relationship-building skills, so they are not wired to connect. This is the biggest difference. Instead of dealing with the differences, we are just complaining that millennials are not good enough.
The biggest gap involves perspective and myths. Each side is completely steeped in their views that the other perspective is flawed. For example:
Do the following statements about millennials ring mostly true or mostly false?
- They have a sense of entitlement, and expect everything now!
- They’re lazy and don’t want to work hard like we did; work/ life balance is more important than hard work.
- They are disloyal and jump ship if they are not engaged or growing.
- They need feedback all the time, 24/7/365. (“Please tell me how great I am. Every day. Twice.”)
- They have different career goals from non-millennials.
- They want everything digital.
- They don’t deal well with authority.
Here’s the answer: It was a trick question.
All these are true . . . and false . . . and none of that matters. They are assumptions—myths, really—and there is no right or wrong when it comes to them. That’s because while myths, assumptions, stereotypes—whatever you want to call them—may be false as blanket statements (“all Americans are overweight” and “all fashion models are anorexic”), they come from a place of partial truth (more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight and many models are unrealistically thin). But who wants to be viewed through the lens of myths like these?
Consider the quiz from the other side. Do the following statements about non-millennial managers ring mostly true or mostly false?
- They obey the Golden Rule: “I’ve got the gold, I make the rules!”
- They are only in it for the money.
- They are inflexible and don’t like change; they’re stuck in their ways.
- They are so not tech savvy.
- They don’t care about their teams or people.
- They are “hard graders” and couldn’t care less about recognizing others.
- They are afraid of nontraditional approaches.
- They are willing to trade the pursuit of true passion for stability.
If you are a non-millennial manager, does this sound like you? Or sound like how you want to be perceived in this world? Well, these are the things most millennials say about us. How much is true? Not much. Just as you are guilty of creating myths that lead to disconnect and frustrations with millennials, they are guilty of perpetuating myths about you.
Work from the Inside-Out
What do you mean when you say to “work from the inside out?”
The secret to job and life satisfaction is internal self-awareness and growth. Youth in general is a time where, if we can understand ourselves, we can start to create a journey to build great careers and lives. Millennials in particular require training on how to understand and accomplish learning about themselves to impact the world. We believe the secret to success is predicated on understanding yourself to impact others, and they need help to learn how to engage themselves in the world and subsequently to create a talent and career track. If we can have them connect to their inside motivation and goals, we can universally have them succeed along their journey.