Are Millennial Problems Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

Coddled, entitled, self-involved and lazy? Are Millennials really that bad?” Based on her experience, Adrienne Batra Editor-in-Chief at the Toronto Sun thinks so.  “We love to hate on them” she pronounced likening Millennials to “the kid we want to pick on in the school yard.”

Batra’s comments were part of a nationally televised debate exploring whether Millennials are spoiled babies. The discussion on CBC’s Sunday Night Talk came on the heels of Simon Sinek’s 2016 Millennials in the Workplace interview; a YouTube phenomenon that captured over 80 million views in one week.

The stereotype casting of Millennials as workplace undesirables persists. But is the problem really Millennials? Or is something bigger at play?

In his signature interview Sinek suggested Millennials drew a bad hand:

  • Self-esteem issues and low stress thresholds perpetuated by over-indulgent, constant praise parenting strategies
  • Social awkwardness translating into wanting interpersonal skills because of the addictive, alienating effects of social media and mobile technology
  • Impatience fuelled by instant gratification (think dating apps, online shopping, live sports and entertainment streaming)
  • Disillusionment and job dissatisfaction because of work environments and management styles that refuse to keep up with change.

As Sinek observes, Millennials “graduate and they get a job and they’re thrust into the real world and in an instant they find out they are not special…. In an instant their entire self image is shattered.”

It behooves organizations to take responsibility. Sinek believes employers must work extra hard to find ways to build up the confidence of Millennials. To work extra hard to find ways to teach the social skills they’re missing out on. To build bridges of engagement by getting to really know and understand what makes this ‘shrooming workforce demographic tick. Pointing to smartphones as a distracting culprit, he advocates their abolishment from all meetings. No exceptions.

“We have to work extra hard to find ways to build up their confidence. We have to work extra hard to find ways to teach them the social skills they’re missing out on.

“There should be no cell phones in conference rooms.”  Relationships are, after all, formed through sharing conversation. “That’s how trust forms. It’s the slow, steady consistency. We have to create mechanisms for those little innocuous interactions to happen.”

Relationships are, after all, formed through sharing, conversing. While waiting for the start of a meeting, instead of tuning out chit chat in favor of the latest text or news item, putting aside smartphones can be a simple and surprisingly engaging measure. It’s that kind of little thing that builds rapport. Trust.  Finding consistent opportunities for innocuous interactions to happen.

These sorts of problems with Millennials are just the tip of the iceberg

In Jean M. Twenge’s book iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us., the allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, is observed to hold less sway over today’s teens. The “iGens” as Twenge dubs them, are less likely to leave the house without their parents. The shift is profound. In 2015, 12th-graders were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.…

Their social life is lived on their phone. They don’t need to leave home to spend time with their friends.

As this forthcoming generation spends more time in isolation on smart phones and less time on in-person social interactions those high-demand, soft skills needed for next-gen leaders are fast fading.

How then, will organizations instil collaboration, innovation and employee engagement when talent is in a constant state of digital distraction? Unable or unwilling to pause, wonder, and wander into new ways of thinking, doing and being a part of something bigger than themselves?

As organizations we have a duty to ourselves and our employees to:

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