The most recent viral millennial video that resonated with us on Facebook was from none other than the master, Simon Sinek, best selling author and motivational speaker. He amassed over 57 million views in a matter of days. The good news is Sinek succinctly describes and analyzes millennials in the workplace. Moreover, his rational for understanding them is a window into how they grew up and were parented with (some more often than not) “failed parenting strategies.”
What does he mean by “failed parenting strategies?”
Millennials’ parents birthed the term and enslaved a generation with “helicopter parents.” The parents of the millennial generation paid extremely close attention to their children’s lives and their problems, and still do. They micromanaged, told their millennials they were special, gave them trophies for participating, and believed and embedded the entitlement theme that their children deserved the best, simply for showing up. If you ask HR Professionals, 30% percent of them will admit to having some type of altercation with a millennial parent and I can tell you I get calls from over zealous parents daily.
This up-close-and-personal, hyper involved, do it for them, and never let them fail parenting style has largely resulted from both the economic cycle of our country combined with the rise and prevalence of technology. Cellphones and social media allowed parents to have instant contact with their kids 24/7…. And information, products, services, answers and solutions anywhere, anytime, with the click of a button and little effort has made us softer. The idea of parents constantly checking in on their children to ensure safety and security may sound like good parenting as well as having everything on demand and at the moment. The intention was pure, and technology amazing. However, it backfired in many ways.
Millennials, dubbed the “anxious generation,” feel a need for frequent and immediate feedback, and have difficulty coping with failure and disappointment and the wrong or hard answer. Why? Because technology has allowed their parents more often than not to solve any challenges at anytime. The strategy of parents of millennials was to “cure,” and now many millennials are grown up, yet still struggle to figure out how they can solve their own problems.
As a millennial coach, you can see this as a pain-in-the-ass dilemma, or an opportunity to be embraced. At launchbox, I’ve worked with thousands of millennials and see that they want, need to, and will excel and grow—they just need your mentorship—or a “new or better” level of real and authentic kickass parenting—to get them there. Not kick your ass, but kick-ass, in the “dang good we get this” way. More specifically, our success in training millennial employees really works both to serve the workplace by creating engagement, retention and revenue, and millennials at the same time by teaching them they are responsible and accountable for their career and job satisfaction. In the workplace, you can lead your millennial employees to performance and engagement with these simple techniques.
First Care Enough to Tell It to Millennials Like It Is
Sinek explains that millennials are struggling in the workplace because their parents “gave them medals for coming in last.” As a millennial coach, it’s up to you to set the tone of what’s expected and tolerated within your company and culture and why “last place” does not work for the organization. Further describe how the key to success is making it about others and teach them to figure out how to change their language, communication, and mindset to do so. (Hint: use their strengths, values and passions to guide them…they are innately smart and purpose driven.)
If your millennial workers are barely “showing up,” putting in minimal effort, and walking through the motions, will you let it slide under the table and tolerate it? Or, like a great parent, will you address the problem head on? The parents who raised strong, self-reliant millennials gave tough love, taught self-respect, integrity, and consequences, and also focused on “earning” as a course of conduct, are the ones you want to emulate. As a leader in the workplace, you must do the same.
Coach them in a caring way. Sit down with your millennial and be transparent. Explain where the pitfall occurred and why it happened. Emphasize that it’s up to the millennial to take responsibility for their work and actions. If they are confused, teach them to be resourceful and find a way to gain clarity. If you’re good at this, they will listen and shift. Guaranteed.
Create the Space for Failure—They Need it
Many helicopter parents were there to clean up the mess when millennials screwed up. As a result, many millennials don’t know how to handle failure. As a millennial mentor and leader, become the tough parent in the workplace and teach them how to fail and pick themselves up. The challenge is we don’t have the time or money to do this and we would rather do the work ourselves. The problem with that is millennials need and want to be taught and learn how to do things. It is the number one thing they want in the workplace, almost neck and neck with that authenticity thing from above.
Well here is the news, make the time and invest or they will leave you because you have not engaged them. 89% of millennials in the workplace feel engaged when they feel their boss cares. Do you care and can you demonstrate that to them?
So don’t BS your millennials and allow their mistakes and poor performance to slide under the radar. Be real with them and let them know when they fail. Be proactive, like a good parent, and empower them to create a solution so they can learn and do better in the future. By being clear that you’re there to help millennials grow and succeed, they will appreciate your tough love. They will see failure not as an “end all,” but as a learning experience and growth opportunity. They will see that your firmness is not because you’re mean, but because you care.
By empowering your millennials to take responsibility for their actions, they learn self reliance, coping skills, and the ability to problem solve. What parent wouldn’t want that for their children? And what leader in the workplace wouldn’t want that for their millennial employees, or for that matter, any employee? Right, Simon? Of course he would agree.
Focus on Patience and Satisfaction From Work
In his viral video, Sinek explains how social media has created a culture of instant gratification, where millennials have fostered a sense of entitlement and expectation.
“Social media has, however, created an incredibly impatient generation who want everything immediately. What’s more, millennials don’t stick at anything for long enough, according to Sinek, whether a job or a relationship.” – The Independent
This quote above explains why millennials may be “job-hoppers.” They are impatient, because they expect instant success and satisfaction at work. When they don’t feel or get those things, they leave in hopes of getting it somewhere else. As a matter of fact we coach 3,000 millennial each year and they are super impatient…but teaching them how to communicate, what they have left to learn, and how to find out whether their boss cares usually results in them staying and not leaving their boss, at least for a year or so longer.
Acting as a coach for your millennial leaders, you can teach your millennials the importance of doing great work and finding fulfillment in the process. The classic adage “patience is a virtue” is one that many millennial kids have heard, but not really grasped.
Create incentives so your millennials can learn the importance of being patient. True satisfaction, as Sinek pointed out, stems from the process of doing long-term work, and doing it well with 100% effort. Like a great parent, create intrinsically motivating benchmarks for them so they can create self-motivation and feel their progress.
Be the Best Parent You Can Be
In today’s workplace, to be the best millennial coach requires treating millennials as if you are their parents. Yes, most of my clients say, “I don’t want to or shouldn’t have to be a parent at work, they’re not my kids, it’s too exhausting, and that is why they call it a job and they get paid, so tough.” Oh yeah, well what happens with that mindset? I’ll tell ya…nothing happens except a revolving door. Instead, shift the mindset to really care and be invested in their success and progress. Show tough love and be firm in your approach. The more clear you are about what you want out of your millennials, the more they will understood what’s required of them to become the best version of themselves.
Allocate responsibilities to your millennials and give them the opportunity to fail. Yes, you read that correctly. Allow them to fail. They need to learn how to cope with failure, develop self-esteem, and learn from their mistakes. As a millennial coach (and parent), this gives you the chance to empower them with the tools they need in the real world—to grow and become reliant.
Instill the importance of doing great work and teach your millennials patience. Explain that nothing worth having comes easy. Set goals along the way so they learn to enjoy the process, while growing simultaneously.
When you show up authentically for your millennials, they will show up for you and your company. The new way of coaching millennials is like great parenting. Are you up for the challenge? If you are we can help teach you.
Looking to bridge the generational divide in the workplace and engage your millennials? Check out the recent Launchbox article “4 Ways to Coach Millennials to Drive Results and Engagement.”