A House divided on Generational differences

Millennials are the products of the environments other generations created for them.
Millennials are the products of the environments other generations created for them.

If you want to find out about generational differences ask someone, they will have an opinion to share. Are Millennials more self-absorbed than previous generations? Are Millennials more concerned about society? Are Millennials more concerned about entitlement? Perhaps so, but I think the fault for these difference lie not with the Millennials but with their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. They are the products of their experiences and those experiences have been provided by older generations. That is the way it has always been. In my opinion it is just another step on a continuum of mankind.

No scientific proof

In a very interesting article in Entrepreneur writer Tasha Eurich, herself a Millennial, says that studies on the differences between generations are inconclusive. Millennials are often accused of being “entitled”. Studies show that “At work and at home, it’s true that entitlement is the enemy of success. Research confirms that entitled employees have unjustified positive opinions about their talents and contributions, feel deserving of things they haven’t earned, and even see their supervisors as abusive. They’re also less satisfied with their jobs, more likely to underperform, pick fights and behave unethically.” This holds across generations however. An entitled Baby Boomer is as bad as a Gen Xer and a Millennial. If you have been in HR for a while you know this to be fact.

The problems are of our own making

There probably is a difference between generations to an extent, but it is a problem of our own making. Adults have altered the way children have been raised and what they are expected to do. “Participation awards” are an example of a creation of adults for which Millennials carry the blame.
Regardless of how it got started we do have to deal with the differences in the workplace. Eurich offers some excellent tips on Millennials could be managed in order to reduce the impact of the differences. These include:

  1. Don’t concentrate on their uniqueness. Their parents made them feel special, a manager does not need to do that. They do need to be appreciated as a member of the team.
  2. Be absolutely clear on what you expect. If you can do this you will minimize problems. No of them are mind readers. In fact none of your employees are and they would benefit from clear expectations as well.
  3. Don’t provide predictable rewards. Predictability breeds entitlement, much as it did with baby boomers with benefit programs and cost-of-living adjustments. When these entitlements stop people get unhappy.
  4. Don’t work on increasing entitlement. Deal with people on the basis of expectations and consequences.
  5. Be prepared to act decisively. Leadership is what many need to see but few get.

I have paraphrased Eurich’s points and I encourage you to read her original remarks by clicking HERE.
If you find yourself complaining about “those kids” grab your curmudgeon hat and then look in the mirror and realize you are part of the problem. Become part of the solution instead.
Photo credit: Ambro

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