The foundation of great relationships is always effective communication. There are many things that work against our ability to have effective communication, including generational differences. Today we are going to focus on the relationship between the Millennial employee and the Gen X/Baby Boomer employer. As you may have experienced, the differences between Millennials and Gen Xers/Baby Boomers can create quite the challenge in the workplace and beyond. The biggest frustration for both, communication.
Why is it this way and how can we fix it? Because let's face it Millennials (including yours truly) are the future of this world. Notice I said world, not country. That's because this is the first time a generational term has been recognized world wide. Yes, every generation has wanted a change, but this is the first time countries, like Asia and India, are now experiencing an action based revolt from their younger generation.
Guess who’s fault it is? Everyones. Both sides need to swallow their pride, make adjustments, and see this for what it is, a personal development opportunity. Millennials come in with this air of entitlement and lack of flexibility and their counter parts come in with… well exactly the same thing. All of a sudden it has now become an OK Corral stand off, who is going to shoot first? If you are a Gen Xer/Baby Boomer employer your organization depends on your flexibility. You aren’t going to be working much longer and this generation outnumbers you almost two to one. What steps do you need to take to ensure your organization lasts after you leave?
First, you need to be your Millennial employee's guide, not their maker. They are not going to become just like you, so stay open. Next, present what you want and create room to be challenged, in fact welcome it. My generation is filled with amazing, creative, hardworking individuals that will take your company to the next level. It's also filled with kids who never heard the word no, never worked a day in their life, and think that Santa Claus still exists… ok maybe not that far but that's about as real as the person they think is out there to hire them. For those, you basically need to pick up where their parents left off or cultivate what they never even touched. Millennials leave managers, not organizations. I am so grateful that I had an amazing example of what it means to work on your own business. I am a proud descendant of a family filled with amazing entrepreneurs who showed me what I can do when I follow my passion as long as I follow it to the ends of the earth, grow while I'm following it, surround myself with others on this journey, and work my ASS off. With that said, talk to your Millennials, ask questions, take the time and listen, REALLY listen. Don't listen with your rebuttal in the chamber, ready to fire. Take mental notes on what you want to touch on, continue to listen until they are done, then share your thoughts. The biggest communication problem, for both sides, is that we aren't listening to understand, we are listening to reply.
Ok my people, it's now your turn. You are NOT gods gift to the world, but you are the future and filled with amazing ideas, drive, vision, and passion. YES, you can bring a shit ton to the table but you need to learn how to present what you have. Learn the business, ask questions. No, you do not need to be your employer's best friend but you do need to show your worth, no one can read between the lines. Be consistent, be a voice, and then welcome the challenge back. This challenge not only helps you build your confidence but also gives you the gift of inside knowledge from someone that has been in this company since you were in diapers. Listen to them, take what connects with you, and then personalize it to your growth and ideals. You respect them, they will respect you and be more receptive to your ideas. You ARE the future of that company, if you love the philosophy and the mission then listen, learn, and make your mark.
Long story short, both sides need to take a minute and listen. Both sides deserve respect, leave your age discrimination at the door. We are all guilty of it and it needs to stop. My peeps, that employer has been through alot, they can support you as you fill in the blanks in your growth. Gen X/Baby Boomers, that employee is your future and eager to make a difference, support, guide, motivate and inspire them. Together, this world is going to grow into something new, amazing, and game changing.