By Gabrielle Bosché
Lazy. Entitled. Disloyal. I’ve heard it all.
The Millennial generation is no stranger to stereotypes.
Introducing yourself as a Millennial strategist usually leads to a confused look and the inevitable question: “So what’s wrong with you guys”—or some form of it.
I have been studying my generation for 10 years, authoring my first book about Millennials when I was 17. At 27, I now have three books on my generation out and have made a career of bridging the generation gap.
Rarely someone will admit that they don’t want to reach Millennials (although it’s happened). More often, CEOs and parents don’t know where to start. Some have given up entirely.
It’s hard to believe a relationship with the next generation is worth it. Especially with the bad press today’s 20 and 30 somethings are getting.
Millennials are not entitled, we are confident.
Yes, some of us are over-confident and still have some growing up to do. But studying my peers has revealed it is strong ambition for success that is most often misinterpreted as entitlement. We want to change the world and believe we have what it takes to make it happen.
Millennials are not disloyal, we are skeptical.
One young woman explained that she never saw herself working at one company for more than 10 years because her dad got laid off three times from corporate jobs. We know the world of work is different now. The relationship an employer has with their staff doesn’t mean much when stocks determine your employment.
Millennials are not lazy, we just work differently.
There is something exhilarating about working through the night on a project. Whether it’s running up against the clock or choosing to balance our life and our work, this generation takes a unique approach to getting things done. The Millennials I have worked with are arguably harder workers than their older counterparts. They are mislabeled because they are fully optimized sitting on a couch instead of hunched over in a cubicle.
The largest indicator you are a Millennial, is your level of expectations walking into a job or opportunity.
Millennials have had high expectations set for us—most often by our parents. That includes the salaries we deserve, the influence we should have and the impact our work should make. When we launch a company or work for yours, we are understandably frustrated at the slow pace of change and lack of transparency we experience.
There are three words that Millennials love to hear and if you embody these principles, we will love you too.
- Millennials love authenticity. You’ve heard the adage, “They don’t care what you know until the know that you care.” Even if we don’t agree with you, we will respect you because you are unapologetically yourself and you genuinely care about our wellbeing. Despite this generation’s appreciation for virtual connections, we crave authentic conversations where others can know us. Don’t assume that our love of technology replaces our need for authentic interaction.
- Millennials love curiosity. I’ve found working with corporate leadership on their Millennial engagement strategies how quickly two people can misinterpret the word why. Many (not all) Boomers hear why and assume the individual asking the question is challenging their authority. They get defensive and begin to reestablish their place as the leader. These managers rarely realize that when a Millennial is asking why we are voicing our interest in being a part of the solution. We ask why to learn about our company culture. We ask why to discover our future at the company. We ask why to learn how you think so we can better work with you, not just for you.
- Millennials love disruption. Before you start to get turned off, let me explain what I mean by disruption. Millennials disrupting an industry does not mean disassembling it or disrespecting those who build it. It means we want to be a part of improving it, growing it an expanding its impact. Millennials disrupt because we want to leave our fingerprints on projects and build a legacy.
There are three options leaders have when it comes to this next generation.
- You can ignore us.
- You can tolerate us.
- You can engage us.
The choice is yours. Leaders who choose to engage us see higher levels of fulfillment and productivity across their entire company, not just Millennials. It’s not about creating a workplace, a movement or even a community that is so Millennial friendly that it offends everyone over 35. The features that make it a great place for Millennials are the very same factors every one of us is searching for.
Rather than labeling an entire generation, try spending more time being authentic, curious and yes, even a little disruptive.
Gabrielle Bosché is the author of The Millennial Entrepreneur: Side-hustlers, Startups and Disrupters Restarting America. You can download a free copy at millennialentrepreneurbook.com before August 24.