Leadership & Millennials: Understanding the Motivation of the New Workforce
There has been a lot of talk about how the current generation that just entered the workplace is not hard-working enough. A lot of downright scathing articles can be found in business magazines and websites that disparage millennials and talk about their shortcomings. The one complaint that a lot of leaders these days echo is that the millennial generation thinks of themselves as entitled and does not expect to put in as much of an effort as they themselves did. This is causing a lot of leadership issues.
The reality is that millennials aren’t too different from any other generation that has entered the workplace. The millennials are not entitled. They do not ask for too much. They are actually one of the most open minded and tolerant generations we have ever seen. Millennials aren’t the problem – the environment they grew up in is the problem. Good leadership requires and understanding of the motivation of the people working under the leader thus it is essential for business leaders to understand what makes millennials tick.
Millennials do not have financial security
Here’s the biggest reason that so many leaders think that millennials are entitled: they have no idea how vulnerable millennials are. They are one of the most disadvantages generations since the great depression ended.
A lot of people who are business leaders these days started their careers out in the 70s, 80,s or the 90s. What people do not understand is that it was a booming time for business and one of the best times for the middle class in the developed world.
It was possible for a person flipping burgers to buy a car and start paying off their student loans. Someone flipping burgers today can barely pay their bills. It was possible to have an entry level job and afford a house in the suburbs. Entry level workers nowadays cannot even afford rent – many of them end up living with roommates simply because their entry level jobs cannot cover their expenses.
More young people are living with their parents now than ever before simply because they cannot afford to move out even with jobs.
Millennials do not believe in the system
The lack of financial security means they do not believe in the system. A hardworking fast food employee could buy a car or pay their college tuition. People used to work hard not because the previous generations had hard-work in their genes, but because they knew they would get something out of it. They knew that if they flipped burgers for a year they will be able to save a little money. They knew that if they stuck in the job for a year or two they will easily be able to afford a house and raise a family.
The current generation has no carrot in front of it; it only has a stick behind it. It doesn’t have a carrot in front of it because they are barely scraping by. They don’t really see many job prospects and are worried about their futures. You cannot expect someone in such a situation to be chirpy and motivated about a stupid job.
We did not have problems with ‘stupid mindless’ jobs because while the jobs were stupid the pay wasn’t. Nowadays millennials look for jobs that offer them validation and self-worth because they know they won’t be able to get by on just the little amount of money they make.
Leadership for the current generation means making the current generation believe in their being a carrot in front of them. It means outlining clear career progression paths and explaining how they can grow in the company. If you cannot seem to connect with the millennials, you need to start taking their problems seriously.