- January 24, 2018
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, management
Okay, I’m going to say something that’s going to upset 75.4 million people in this country: I don’t think the work world should change for Millennials, I think they’re going to have to change for it.
Maybe I’m being a curmudgeon, and I’m sure there are many people who will tell me that the world is changing all around me. But I don’t believe that’s the case. Here’s why I think so.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 75.4 Millennials (ages 21 – 37, as of 2018), while Boomers (ages 54 –72) hit 74.9 million.
While there are plenty of Millennials who are changing the tech world and the startup world, there are still plenty of Boomers in leadership and management roles in manufacturing, finance, banking, and B2B companies. And the traditions and practices aren’t changing anytime soon because the style of management/operations will hold fast in those industries for decades.
It all has to do with the way the up-and-coming managers are being trained. The managers today were trained in specific ways 20 –30 years ago. There were rules and policies to follow, and certain mindsets and personalities (i.e. conservative, risk averse) were rewarded.
Today’s executives are training the middle managers who will take over in 10 – 20 years, and they’re training them in the ways their industry or their corporate culture demands. Which means those traditions will carry on, at least for the foreseeable future.
One thing I’ve noticed about Millennials is that they have a tendency to be. . . less capable of social interactions. Not all of them, and not only people in that age group. But I’ve found more of them among people born between 1981 and 1997.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, you still have to deal with people. And many of the Millennials I’ve encountered have never really had to exercise those skills or been required to exercise them. But those are skills I value highly among all of my staff.
In fact, I had to quit hiring people who got online degrees. The reason was I found the people with the online degrees weren’t as capable of dealing with people as those people who went to traditional colleges and universities. In a traditional higher education setting, you’re often working in groups, interacting, debating, arguing, collaborating, and cooperating. But in an online setting, you’re not developing these interpersonal skills that are very important to an organization’s success.
Communication is another skill that I find missing in many younger employees. I sometimes wonder if they’re speaking in tongues to each other. They have idiosyncratic ways of expressing themselves (I have never used the word “hashtag” conversationally), and they use language and jargon that doesn’t really work in a professional setting.
That’s fine in a small network of friends and peers. But when you have to deal with people who are not in your peer group, you have to be able to communicate with them in the manner they wanted to be communicated in.
And if that’s your managers and the people who sign your paycheck, then you have to communicate in their preferred style.
I realize this is going to make me sound old and curmudgeonly, and as some friends like to say, I’m going to “start yelling at Millennials to get the hell off my lawn.” But as someone who has worked for manufacturers in three different countries over the last 40+ years, I have seen trends come and go, changes come and go, and new ways of doing things come and go. And while the work world is always changing and always improving, there are two things that will never change:
- The need for clear, concise, and professional communication.
- The need to collaborate and cooperate with your fellow employees.
When I interview job candidates who don’t have those two basic skills, I can’t see them being a cohesive part of a large manufacturing organization. So when I think of my world — the world of corporate, B2B, and manufacturing professionals — I don’t think it should change. I think Millennials need to adapt to how we do things if they want to succeed in it.
Now get off my lawn, I just watered it.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: RawPixel (Pexels.com, Creative Commons 0)