Maybe You've Been Wrong About Millennials...
Jeff Orr, MBA, MS Leadership, TEDx Speaker, Millennial Leadership Expert
As I speak to organizations and work with leaders around the country, I am noticing something that really bugs me.
There is a strong bias against certain groups of people. Specifically, Millennials. I coach Gen-X leaders and Baby Boomer leaders and I hear many of the same things when I start talking about Millennials: “Oh, Millennials! Let me tell you… They are so entitled, unreliable, yada, yada,…
No doubt, these statements come partly from their experience. But is it possible, that their experience has been influenced by what they have seen and read in the media about this generation?
While many people will debate about bias in the media, I think we can all agree that there is definitely an agenda in the media, and in all communications for that matter. I have an agenda for this post. It’s not a conspiracy, it is what it is. And what we see and read in the media has a heavy agenda for getting you to click on the link; the headline, the video, a “like” button, a “follow” button, whatever. The media or the person generating the content wants you to read their stuff because they can monetize it.
We see the effects of this - known as “click bait.” A headline is written so outlandishly that you just have to click on it and read the article. There are times when the headline doesn’t even represent what is written. But the agenda is to get you to click and you did.
Given the fact that the goal is to monetize content, and headlines and articles are sensationalized and written in a way to get you to click on them, do you think it might be possible that many of the articles you have read and the videos you have seen about Millennials is focused on highlighting the worst of this generation? Just to get you to click on the link?
Do you think it might be possible that much of the information you are getting is one sided and might be affecting the lens with which you look at Millennials?
We all have a tendency to see behaviors in other people that we expect to see. For example, you read a number of articles describing how Millennials are unreliable. They can’t seem to show up to work on time. You have programmed your mind with an expectation that follows what you have read. You hire a Millennial and the first time they show up late, you see it as confirmation that your young employee is unreliable. It doesn’t matter that there was an accident on the freeway causing them to be late. You expect an unreliable behavior and that’s what you begin to see. Because that’s what you have been exposed to. You don’t see very many positive articles about Millennials on the internet. Just a lot of negative ones. So they must be true.
Research has shown that headlines and articles that have a negative slant get read. Sales people are trained to use this kind of language to move prospects toward a buying decision. If the agenda is to monetize content, it has to be read. If you want people to read about Millennials, wouldn’t it make sense to present a headline and article that highlights the most negative aspect of this generation? Which headline would you click on? “Millennials are happy and productive employees” OR “Watch out! Millennials are going to destroy your business!”
But we’ve gone overboard in our negative view of Millennials. So much so, that a Millennial has a tough road ahead of them in the workforce to learn and grow in their job. Not only do they have to perform well in their job, but they have to overcome all of the incorrect, preconceived ideas that you have about them, based on all the things you have read over the years.
Are there Millennials who fit the stereotype you read about? Sure. But there are Gen-Xers and even Baby Boomers who fit those stereotypes as well. But it isn’t all of them, or even necessarily the majority of them.
So here’s my agenda for this post. As older leaders, ones who should know better, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard and stop dishonoring an entire generation with the words we say about them.
If we want more loyalty and commitment from Millennials, let’s give them a compelling vision and purpose worth committing their best efforts toward.
Let’s inspire them to take a risk and help them back up when it doesn’t work out.
Let’s respect them for the skills they bring and value their opinion and ideas.
Look for the best in your young workers and you will see it.
Communicate your expectations for them and give them the resources to meet those expectations.
Be the kind of leader for them, that you would want to follow.
Jeff Orr, a TEDx speaker and expert in Generational Leadership, coaches executives, business owners, and individuals with the tools and skills to lead more effectively, build high-performing teams, and experience true success in their careers and personal lives. As a dynamic and energizing keynote speaker and corporate trainer to Fortune 500 companies, Jeff has helped thousands grow in their leadership to impact their organizations and communities. Jeff engages his audience through humor, real world stories, and a genuine care for the people he speaks to, helping them to build lasting success internally and externally. He is also author of the highly acclaimed book, Succeed In The New Normal. Through his coaching company, InDemand Leadership, Jeff empowers his clients to experience internal growth, which then translates into sustainable external success.