Here is a Switch: An Article about Millennials Written by Millennials

Millennials.  Generation Y.  Entitled.  Digital Natives.

As an employer, these seemingly synonymous appellations likely strike fear into your heart. Just the word “millennial” conjures up imagery of the unruly punk, eyes and fingers glued to his phone while disdainfully rejecting your generation’s ideas and ideals. The common associations within this group are social media, social activism, and entitlement.

According to the U.S. Census, people born between 1982 and 2000 define Generation Y, meaning the millennial age range spans from about 36 years old to 18. As they make up the largest generation in the United States and about a quarter of the population, it is highly likely that you have hired, worked with, sold to, or learned from a millennial. In other words: they can’t be ignored.
One of the biggest complaints around Gen Y is that they are the most difficult employees in generational history to motivate, produce results, and coexist with. Somehow they were born without the ability to respect their elders and don’t see any value in hard work.
The problem with all of these assumptions is that they are too easy. These are the kind of excuses posed by people who don’t know how to influence and inspire.
There’s another reason why all of these assumptions are so easy: they’ve already been made—about you.
Has there ever been a generation of people that hasn’t been called disrespectful or lazy by the generation responsible for raising them? Socrates is considered one of the most brilliant philosophers in history, and even he is quoted by his student Plato as saying, “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” He was also born around 470 BCE.
This sounds eerily similar to me; maybe replace some of the antiquated language with something to do with cell phones or Instagram, and we’ve got a match.
It’s the same complaint we’ve heard across generations, just with exaggerated language and circumstances. But just like the generation before you, and the generation before them, you’ll get through it—with a little help from two millennials.
I’ve heard again and again about the challenges of working with millennials, but I know they’re not true because I am a millennial, as is the editor of this here newsletter and blog. That’s why I’m going to offer you tips to handling my generation in this new series, Perennial Millennial. I’ll help you adjust to us whippersnappers so you can work with millennials for the rest of your days (because, like it or not, that’s your new reality).
My goal in writing this new series is not to shame older generations into giving more slack to millennials (or any future generation for that matter), but to challenge you to not make the easy assumption. I want to help you recognize that stereotypes of any kind are just excuses for an obstacle. Bad leadership is bad leadership. Ineffective hiring is ineffective hiring. As owners and managers it is your job to give employees the tools they need to be effective, not to blame them and walk away.
“Millennial” is not a term to describe every new wave of young and rowdy kids. By 2025, they will make up 75% of the working population. These are Mark Zuckerberg, Beyonce, and Lebron James. These are the future of every major corporation on earth.
So, what should you do?
The first thing you can do is to recognize and appreciate the perks of hiring from Gen Y. Changing your mindset regarding these new hires is step one.
One of the many advantages is the diversity that your millennials bring to the table. 44.2% of us (millennials) are part of a minority. This is larger than any previous generation. You would be doing a disservice to your organization and self to ignore the different perspectives they can share.
It’s also worth recognizing that millennials aren’t just the majority of your future workforce—they already make up a shockingly high percentage of your shoppers and clients. As of 2017, millennials were spending $600 billion annually—that’s 28% of all consumer spending, with the percentage set to grow to 35% by 2030. And the majority of those millennials make their purchases offline. Who best to cater to these shoppers than those Gen Y employees you reluctantly hired?
Other pros of hiring from this generation? They’re tech-savvy (hence, “digital natives,” meaning they grew up with and are fluent in the technologies you’re still learning). They’re team players (unlike the Generation X before them, who were referred to as “The Me Generation,” Gen Y hosts a heightened sense of community and relationships, leading some to dub them “The We Generation.”). They’re self-expressive (so they’re happy to share good ideas and feedback). The list goes on.
Rather than continue to snub this younger generation, it’s integral that you adjust your own perspective in order to capitalize on the benefits they can provide to your business. Millennials offer a broader perspective and savviness that appeals to a growing percentage of your customer base.

Once you recognize the significance of Gen Y and open yourself to the advantages they bring, you’ve taken a big step forward—but it’s the first of many. We’ll keep walking next month.

Author:  KENT MANN

With a last name like “Mann,” Kent’s future with The Mann Group was practically promised at birth. Kent completed his business degree at UNC Charlotte, where he competed as a Division One athlete in Track and Field and Cross Country. Kent brings to The Mann Group retail experience in both the outdoor and running industries, as well as cultivated business insights and natural curiosity, all of which combine to make him a valuable resource for businesses. He loves exotic pets and has had both a chinchilla and a ball python (but not at the same time!).

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