Those Pesky Millenials

The media is full of handwringing about those pesky Millenials! What to do, what to do?! Thought I’d weigh in since I raised 4 of them, and trained many thousands more.

When your baby was learning to walk, you didn’t criticize when they fell down. You

Happy Ariah after taking first steps

were encouraging, “Come on! You can do it!” You didn’t do the walking for the little tyke. You reached down and offered your hands in support but didn’t carry them everywhere after they started walking. Do you remember? When they succeeded, they were ecstatic! Success breeds confidence and a desire to try again.

Unfortunately, some parents forgot that lesson. Those parents may have been latchkey kids. Maybe they carry  resentment with them even now. They vowed they would be present every second of the day and night for their kids, and made attachment parenting popular.

Once upon a time, making your child dependent upon you forever was frowned upon. The now grown children who lived a life surrounded by Caution Tape are expected to waltz into your office and know how to interact with other humans like grownups. Add the tech component that replaced human interaction and you have a problem.

 The now grown children who lived a life surrounded by Caution Tape are expected to waltz into your office and know how to interact with other humans

The upside? Every Millenial I’ve met is hungry. They want to learn. TEACH THEM!  Many don’t know how or what questions to ask. They’ve been protected since birth and this is new territory – walking upright for the first time. They need to be taught how to work if they’ve never held a job before. They bring amazing insights, collaborative skills, innovation and technology with them. They are bright young people with ideas – some not feasible, but some out of the box enough to work.

  They bring amazing insights, collaborative skills, innovation and technology 

Some Millenials are far ahead of the pack, and that’s not just the Zuckerbergs. They work differently than we might, but they put their heart and soul into everything. Identify the bright ones – they are your leaders. Train them, work with them and help them understand. If they don’t know how to walk, encourage them and offer a hand up once in awhile. Sneering, snarky comments about how you didn’t do things that way when you were younger just makes you look like your grandpa.

 What to do?

  • Consider providing basic workplace skills training classes
  • Combine online and in-person courses
  • Interaction practice is important for those who would manage others
  • Use case studies and role playing, even in an interview
  • Do what you can to assess their strengths and weaknesses and figure out how to complement and support them – Give them a Fighting Chance!
  • Don’t make assumptions based upon your confirmation bias, take a step back and really listen to what they need and where they are in their career journey
  • When you find the ones with their lights on, do what you can to keep that fire burning and show them the way. You might learn something!
  • Be willing to have them try out their ideas in areas that won’t break anything or blow up the company. We learned from our mistakes … give them a chance to learn how things work.

How do you find out what they need? Read Part 2 tomorrow for interview questions and ideas for recruiting and creating a resilient new workforce.


Shameless self promotion: My book, 101 Ways to Make Your Life Easier was written in frustration with Gen’s X & Y (the theme is, “Stop doing things that piss people off and you’ll be more successful!) My latest two books are written with our newest generation in mind. Thinking About Thinking is a minibuk with a Critical Thinking Checklist and commentary on Normalcy Bias, Confirmation Bias and Black Swan Theory. 27 Secrets of Management Success is a handbook on managing the people component of your business. This last book also has links to handy forms you can use to interview and give Performance Reviews.


Enjoy the Journey!


© 2014 Beth Terry, CSP • All Rights Reserved


Related posts:

The Fish Rots from the Head Down

If You Don’t Tell Them, They Make it Up!

How to Guarantee Your Company Will Fail

Do Your Employees “Get” Your Mission Statement?





About Beth Terry

Beth Terry, CSP, is a speaker, coach, writer and cowgirl. Her audiences are from around the world: she has spoken to almost half a million people in 6 countries. Her passion is watching the "popcorn popper" go off in people's heads when they 'get it.'

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