Morgan (a family friend who also happens to be a millennial) was practically screaming in frustration as we began our mentoring session, “Arghhh, Karin, I’m just so frustrated. They want me to do all this crap… none of it seems important, and it’s getting in the way of my real work.”
It would have been tempting to just take Morgan’s word for it– that the “crap” she was being asked to do made no sense.
After all, I suppose I should be on Morgan’s “side,” but as I dug below the “crap,” I could see a logical explanation for almost everything she was being asked to do.
K- “Has your boss explained why these things are important?”
K- “Do you think your boss has your best interest at heart?”
K-“Well let me try to explain why I think they’re asking for all this.”
She let out a palpable sigh as I went through the possible explanations. (Keep in mind that I have no idea if these were the real reasons… but just connecting her dots with my experience.)
Imagine how much better that would have been coming from her boss.
I stand by my view that millennials are just human beings doing the best they can, like the rest of us. The more I work with this generation, however, I realize that it’s not that they their needs are that different, it’s that they are more vocal when things don’t make sense.
Asking more “whys” can be powerful, positive disruptive force
in our organizations, communities and world.
And of course, the flip side of this conversation is that there often is a very good “why” worth listening to. We need to all get better at explaining and listening, even if we don’t like what we hear.
Five Conversations Your Millennial Employees Are Longing To have
If you’re running into frustration with your millennials questioning everything and not “getting with the program,” consider tackling one of these five conversations.
- How can I show up authentically (be true to myself) and still be effective? (Help me navigate the politics.)
- Why do we have to do it this way? (Explain the why behind all these policies and processes that seem to be wasting my time)
- Why does my work matter? (Help me find the greater meaning in the work I do.)
- When you say “I’m not ready” for a promotion, can you be more specific? (And how do I get ready beyond just putting in my time?)
- I’ve got some ideas for how we can do this better. (Please listen to me and take me seriously).
The best way to bridge the generational gap is open dialogue. Let’s have more.
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