This was interesting timing because someone sent me a great video about the difficult situation Millennials face in in the workplace just a few hours after I started working on this. I am glad to see more and more people talking about building constructive relationships with this generation instead of criticizing them all the time. Here’s the video, it is well worth the 15 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrT8lJNa9Z8
Writing about Millennials is the gift that keeps on giving.
I still have people bring up the post I wrote defending them, for good and ill. I got a few messages about it as well, also good and ill.
“What advice would you give Millennials from what you have learned working with them for so long?”
Advice is a dangerous thing, especially when it was not requested. I can share some of the things I’ve seen from working with this generation for quite a while, but with a few caveats.
First, these are just things I have gleaned from seeing what this generation struggles with, and represents only my opinion. Some will agree, others will disagree. Bear in mind, this is a generation I really care deeply about, and genuinely want to see succeed.
Second, I kind of feel like these things could apply to any of the generations currently alive, and I definitely see ways it can all apply to me. I pulled as much useful stuff for myself from the video about Millennials in the workplace as I did for any Millennial I work with as a client. Technology seems to be creating a common set of troubles for us and we just like to pretend only Millennials are affected.
Anyway. Things I’ve come to believe from working with Millennials.
- You got screwed in a lot of ways, but this is yours to deal with. Yes, the generations before you might have had better opportunity in many ways, and it does feel like they pulled the ladder up behind them, but this is irrelevant. Time spent blaming is costing you, not them.
- That being said, you have opportunities unheard of in all of human history. I once spent 9 years trying to figure out the name of a song and who sang it. You can have a naked video chat with a stranger in China right now if you decide to. Find a way to use this for something worthwhile, and you will eclipse what every generation before you has done by miles and miles.
- Being offended doesn’t mean anything at all, and certainly doesn’t mean that someone needs to change what they believe or say or do. I don’t say this because I want you to toughen up, but because I hate to see anyone allow someone else to have power their emotional state. If there is one thing I fear from your generation, it is the death of free speech in the name of not hurting people’s feelings.
- Put your phone down. I think the most significant way you got screwed is in the way the internet has shifted your focus to the virtual world. This is making plenty of people plenty of money, but it is at your expense. Your generation has unprecedented rates of depression and anxiety, and this also makes plenty of people plenty of money. Don’t let the doctors and pharmaceutical companies and *ahem, counselors take your money from you. Turn toward the real world and tell us all to go to hell.
- Don’t confuse being outraged with being right. You are also having this sold to you. By the same generation that then turns and criticizes you for being outraged.
- Do anything and everything you can for yourself, whenever possible. You got screwed out of knowing the joy of this by parents who did everything for you. This also serves to make other people money at your expense as you pay them to do things for you.
- Keep making your life significant and keep believing that being alive should mean more than going to work every day until you die. Keep refusing to believe that life is about mortgages and credit scores and how many members your church has. Keep refusing to believe what the advertisers and university provosts and car salesmen tell you. It is scaring the hell out of them, and it is hilarious.
- Keep insisting on purpose in what you do, but get comfortable making that purpose yourself. Nobody else can really give this to you, and if they do they are profiting off of you. They will also then turn and criticize you for it.
- Let selfie culture die. If it won’t, murder it in its sleep.
So that’s what I would offer Millennials.
This is what I offer them when we work together one on one, and, contrary to all the depictions of them in the media, I find them receptive and hard-working. I find them genuinely searching for the way out of a situation they didn’t create and they are trying to do it in a very messy world. I find them to be caring, compassionate and tougher than they are given credit for.
As I’ve said before, I honestly think that they can and will do great things once they get some traction. It is up to the generations that came before them, especially the generation that handed out all those participation trophies they now bitch about ceaselessly, to help them find that traction.
Now, if you will excuse, I need to get back to making mistakes with my Generation Z offspring.