What’s Up With Millennials?

Leading Millennials

A question that I’ve been asked frequently is: How do you lead a millennial? Many leaders find it a difficult task to effectively lead young adults in this category.

Truth be told, millennials are a hard group to even define. The definition of who is and who isn’t a millennial varies from person to person.

Young people covered in paint taking a selfie

Photo by Julian Gentilezza

Is someone in Generation Y a millennial? What about Generation Z? Or could it be someone from Generation X?

The definition of a millennial isn’t clear. That’s okay. Their attributes are.

What Is A Millennial?

When you think of a millennial, what do you think of? Do you think:

  • Man-buns
  • Tight jeans
  • Lazy
  • Selfies
  • Hipsters
  • Unmotivated
  • Cell phone addicts

There’s plenty of negative connotations that come with the label of millennial. It is easy to quickly label millennials lazy or unmotivated or self-centered. It’s what the media tells us millennials are.

This portrayal of millennials also makes many of us leaders scream “What’s up with millennials? Why can’t they get their act together and become productive.”

But, let’s take a look at what a millennial really is… If there’s even a clear cut answer.

CBS, PBS, The Washington Post, and other news organizations have defined millennials as having been born between 1981 and 1996. I’ve seen other dates tossed around as early as 1980 and as late as 2000. The years don’t matter as much as the defining characteristics of a millennial.

The media will tell you millennials are unmotivated, lazy, and want things for free. This isn’t what a millennial is.

Millennials have the following characteristics:

  • Desire more feedback than previous generations
  • Open-minded
  • Confident
  • Tech-savvy
  • Connected
  • Task orientated

There are many positive characteristics of the millennial generation. These are but a few of those.

As you spend more time with millennials, you’ll realize they’re not much different than you or I. They have similar characteristics and the same pitfalls you do.

Why We’re Scared Of Millennials

Millennials, while being similar to the previous generation, offer a unique challenge. They’ve been raised and connected with technology for most of their lives. They find it hard to remember a time with a gaming console in the household or a cell phone in their pocket.

The millennial generation is a connected generation. One who doesn’t like to be tied down or forced to do something they don’t want to do.

With their connectedness, they’re able to reach out to old connections when times get tough. They know they can find someone who will help them get to the last level. They also know they can job hop and leave a bad organization.

Millennials can also be scary because we think they’re so different than us. You’ve already seen they’re not. They’re more like you than you may want to believe but it’s true.

Let’s stop screaming “What’s up with millennials?” and, instead, ask “How can we work better together with millennials?” The answer will surprise you.

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