What is it about Millennials that drive every other generation crazy?
Can it really be their love for avocado toast? I mean, I know it’s a piece of bread with some avocado smeared on it that costs too much money. On the other hand, it’s delicious, so what’s the big deal?
Whatever the reason, that generation has spawned a significant number of ‘consultants’ who are making ungodly amounts of money for telling us how to manage Millennials, how to kowtow to Millennials, and how they are so much different than the rest of us.
Eric’s Leadership Hint: don’t manage them differently, don’t kowtow to them, and don’t assume they’re so different from the rest of us.
And it’s likely those consultants are the same people a few years ago who warned us not to stereotype a whole lot of people; that we needed to focus on “one size fits one”. So much for that philosophy…
First, let’s start debunking some rumors. After a lot of studying millennials through the dozens of clients we have, I’ve come to the same conclusion that Mel Kleiman has:
- Technology that helps them be more productive
- Professional development opportunities
- Collaboration (a.k.a. teamwork)
- Work/life balance
- To be happy
So how is what “they” want so different than what the rest of us want? It’s not. (They may want all of this with more urgency than the rest of us, but that’s not a major issue).
Last year, I gave a keynote speech in Hawaii to a bunch of banking executives. I had been asked to touch on the millennial issue, but the main focus of my talk was how to integrate younger leaders into the leadership team.
Right before I went on, my wife came up to me and said the previous speakers talked non-stop about millennials and how to manage them and what to do – basically duplicating what I was going to say. She told me that they even took selfies of themselves speaking to illustrate how important that was to millennials.
So when I got to the ‘millennial’ part of my talk, I stopped and looked at the audience. And said, “Is anyone here as tired as I am of talking about millennials?”
Well, I should have stopped right there, because the bankers were coming out of their seats to applaud that statement. I was thus inspired to take a selfie as well, indicating “Boomers Can Take Selfies Too”.
(The result of the photo showed that I can take a selfie, just not very well).
My point is this. We’re all tired of “How To Manage Generations” articles and consultants. We’re tired because it’s not fair to stereotype an entire generation. People are different within generations. There are millennials who don’t like avocado toast, and there are some millennials who (gasp) don’t like taking selfies. Just as there are boomers who are entitled snobs who think everything should be handed to them on a platter.
You don’t manage generations. You manage individuals.
The world is one size fits one, and those who manage people based on a stereotype of an entire generation are doomed to failure.