We all know how obnoxious it can be to hear a 40+ year-old drone on and on about millennials in the workplace. Columns like the one published this week in Entrepreneur come a dime a dozen. It laid out four strategies to connect on a personal level with Generation X and after I read it I couldn’t help but think it was more just a very obvious write up of how to talk to human beings. The stigma surrounding people in their 20s is that they have poor communication skills due to technology. This article points out very obvious, very assumptive approaches that I’ve got a few issues with. Excerpts are in italics.
1. What’s In It For Them
Often referred to as the “Me” generation, millennials want to know what’s in it for them. Millennials just don’t want to have a job, they want to have a job with an impact.
While I absolutely agree that people my age are looking for jobs that allow them to make the world a better place, couldn’t we also say the same thing for literally every single person in the workforce? The notion that only millennials want to make a positive impact and feel like they’re doing something important is so absurd. Is the author saying that the 45-year-old office administrator doesn’t want a better job? That she isn’t looking for better pay, a little more responsibility, and a sense of purpose? Because I call bullshit. Here’s the deal: Everyone wants to feel like they matter. I don’t care how old you are; that doesn’t change with age.
2. Feedback Is A Two Way Street
Annual performance reviews are no longer sufficient. Millennials want at least quarterly reviews and regular feedback. And not just with one-way feedback. Millennials want the opportunity for two-way feedback.
So apparently millennials need to be patted on the head and constantly get reaffirmation that we’re good. We’re not dogs. Are we talking about a kennel for strays or kids at work? I’m in the camp that says if you screw up, you should be reprimanded for it. I have no problem taking constructive criticism from people, but I would also never have the balls to walk into my boss’s office and tell him we need to go over his performance for the last month. A supervisor is a supervisor for a reason. Two-way feedback is not necessary between an underling and a higher-up unless something is seriously wrong. And then, in that case, couldn’t you just take it to HR?
3. Put good news first.
“Millennials want the positive before the negative. ‘Here are the great things you did on X, and here is some way to make it even better’,” says Schawbel. And when it comes to positive feedback, the “if everything is going well you won’t hear from me” management approach is not effective.”
No. No. No. No. Maybe I’m just an old soul but I’d much rather hear the shitty news first. At least I have something to look forward to that way. And I love the “if everything is going well you won’t hear from me” approach. She should have made the third strategy “if headphones are in, don’t try to start up a conversation with me.”
4. Give clear direction and give access.
If you need something done in a specific way, be specific. Confirm mutual understanding. And when the employee does exactly what you’ve directed, give reinforcing positive feedback.
Wow. What a revolutionary take there. Are you kidding me? Doesn’t everyone want clear-cut directions before starting a project? Or are millennials just using common sense more than older coworkers? I’m really confused. When placed with a task, I always want to know details about how it should be done so I don’t have to redo it later. And again with the positive reinforcement. We’re not animals, lady. You can talk to us like adults. Just tell me if the assignment is right or not so I can go back to my desk and listen to some James Taylor.
When it comes to millennial communication, remember: It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s different.
That was how she ended her article. One thing to always keep in mind about millennials: They’re dogs..
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