Millennials are the first generation in human history with a plethora of options. There are lots of apprehensions, discussions and conferences around handling millennials in today's multi-generational workforce scenario. The fear of being judged is causing the millennials to misunderstand what it takes to be good at work.
Ironically, the generation that gives millennials a tough time is the generation that raised them.
Here is my take on how we should start embracing the change which the younger generation is trying to establish repeatedly by their actions in the given situation. Some of the distinguishing characteristics that I have observed while working with millennials at my workplace are:
1. Audacious and not presumptuous
I often find people saying, “I am not afraid of hard work like our new generation kid” with a smirk. What does this convey?
We have categorized millennials to be lazy, as they find out ways to work smarter than us. They speak their minds brutally which our mind is not customized to adapt. Stereotyping them with such adjectives is just like a teacher who has picked her favorite students based on what positive traits “the teacher” possess rather than what the time demands the student to have at that given point of time.
Millennials are raised on the fundamental principle based on “be anything you want to be” with plenty of choices. Much has been made out of this selfie generation, their whims, and narcissism. On the contrary, it is becoming increasingly clear that they are indeed mature enough to understand the world that they are taking on and perhaps audacious enough to tackle it.
2. New definition of time
In this digitally connected world, defying the 9-5 time shift should never be categorized as a revolution created by millennials. What’s wrong in it?
The baby boomers and GenX are simply not able to let go of these hackneyed practices. The fault of the new kids on the block is that they have started questioning these practices. I don’t see any relevance in tagging them “Disrespectful to time or being too entitled”. It is just that they are finding innovative ways to effectively and comfortably complete their task at hand with better acumen. What should just matter is “performance” and delivery.
3. Picking on millennials
“They don’t understand the value of hard work and loyalty as we do”. Not only this, one of the most common accusation which are picked for millennials by the older generation is “for every little thing they do, they always need recognition”.
The way we have brought up are kids is somewhat reflected in this, isn’t it?
The concept of recognition has been indoctrinated to our kids by none other than “us”, “we”, and “ourselves”. As a parent, we have been obsessed with credentials and connections always. These gross generalizations based on experiences resulting out of a smaller percentage of the millennial population should be discouraged.
4. Changes that matter
“There’s no client meeting today, so I thought of dressing more comfortably without wearing my tie”, says a young boy to his functional head. Does it sound too arrogant to you? Some facts proven by researches state that sitting all day is as bad as smoking. Longer meetings are generally ineffectual. Giving people purpose makes them work harder for you. Millennials are not afraid to break away from these moulds. That’s when we started to take notice of them.
Perhaps, I don’t find millennials doing anything wrong in challenging the status quo or the employers’ ethos. They are just going by facts. In fact, we all will benefit if employers let go of the inflexible spirit of the old guard and embrace those policies that propel more productivity and well-being. Though some organizations may take some time to accept the new age changes which lie ahead, I must say that there are many organizations which have already started looking into this direction.
5. Trying to be different
“What happened, why aren’t you going to the office?”
“Go to the office, do some real work!”
This is what I have heard from my parents when I tried to do something different. Not only millennials, there are even people from the slightly older generation who do not want to follow the same old path. In fact, the millennials had watched their own parents come back from work with a miserable face and complaining about the age old systems. The kids have seen their overweight parents, fully disgruntled and watching videos on how to “Stay Happy” before the arrival of every dreadful Monday. They have witnessed what they would become, if they follow a traditional path.
Millennials are indoctrinated in a system which says that they are special and can keep doing things differently. Trying to be different to bring a change eventually always yields better and fascinating results.
Historically, we’ve never easily accepted the younger generation with full grace instantaneously. And it’s completely fine, as long as it does not cross its boundary. But the coping mechanism needs to be progressive, with a self-introspection and a deeper reflection, free of unconscious biases and any judgment. Let’s embrace the change and allow our next generation to be the change together.