Morgan (a family friend who also happens to be a millennial) was practically screaming in frustration as we began our mentoring session, “Arghhh, Karin, I’m just so frustrated. They want me to do all this crap… none of it seems important, and it’s getting in the way of my real work.”
It would have been tempting to just take Morgan’s word for it– that the “crap” she was being asked to do made no sense.
After all, I suppose I should be on Morgan’s “side,” but as I dug below the “crap,” I could see a logical explanation for almost everything she was being asked to do.
K- “Has your boss explained why these things are important?”
K- “Do you think your boss has your best interest at heart?”
K-“Well let me try to explain why I think they’re asking for all this.”
She let out a palpable sigh as I went through the possible explanations. (Keep in mind that I have no idea if these were the real reasons… but just connecting her dots with my experience.)
Imagine how much better that would have been coming from her boss.
I stand by my view that millennials are just human beings doing the best they can, like the rest of us. The more I work with this generation, however, I realize that it’s not that they their needs are that different, it’s that they are more vocal when things don’t make sense.
Asking more “whys” can be powerful, positive disruptive force
in our organizations, communities and world.
And of course, the flip side of this conversation is that there often is a very good “why” worth listening to. We need to all get better at explaining and listening, even if we don’t like what we hear.
Five Conversations Your Millennial Employees Are Longing To have
If you’re running into frustration with your millennials questioning everything and not “getting with the program,” consider tackling one of these five conversations.
- How can I show up authentically (be true to myself) and still be effective? (Help me navigate the politics.)
- Why do we have to do it this way? (Explain the why behind all these policies and processes that seem to be wasting my time)
- Why does my work matter? (Help me find the greater meaning in the work I do.)
- When you say “I’m not ready” for a promotion, can you be more specific? (And how do I get ready beyond just putting in my time?)
- I’ve got some ideas for how we can do this better. (Please listen to me and take me seriously).
The best way to bridge the generational gap is open dialogue. Let’s have more.
Who Leads Next? What Every Employer Needs to Know To Develop Your Millennial Employees
As David Dye and I prepare for our Winning Well Asia Tour this Spring, we continue our dialogue on with Michael Teoh, author of the Potential Matrix and founder of Thriving Talents. To hear more, you can listen to this recorded webinar in which we discuss:
- How to Build a Culture that Develops Leaders before they have Titled Responsibility
- Ways to Talk with your Younger Talent to keep them Engaged and bought into the Development Process
- Key Mistakes to Avoid – Don’t Push Your Leaders Out The Door!
- A Process to Identify and Draw Out the Best from Your Emerging Leaders
I enjoyed the post, Karin. I wonder if millennials appreciate long term as much as the short term. Maybe coming out of college, the person is used to immediate work assignments – i.e. school assignments. Transitioning this person to think about company goals might be another discussion to have with millennials with this point of view.
David, GREAT ADD! I agree. Thank you.
Great point of view, Karin. Instead of pointing the finger at others and blaming them, or being reduced to calling them names, take the time to uncover the why. There is always a reason and so many of us live in a silo or bubble that we lack complete awareness of the why behind the actions of others. Or even ourselves at times…
LaRae, Very well said. Thank you! Understanding is such an important place to start.