Millennials aren’t perfect. None of us are, particularly when we were their age (how soon we forget). Speaking of age, did you get the memo? It turns out that the human brain isn’t fully developed until about age 25, when I think about it that explains a lot (including some of my most embarrassing moments).
There are big complaints about workforce newbie’s because they don’t know how to act. Translated it means that they only think of themselves and say and do things all the wrong things. Of course they do!
All About “Me”
Up to this point in life, their responsibility has been to prepare themselves to become independent and self-sufficient (all about me). On top of that, everyone they’ve interacted with up to this point, whether it was parents, teachers, coaches or professors, their job was to nurture and develop the millennials to their full potential (still all about them).
Contributing to the problem is a mismatch of expectations. For example, in the old days when I was in college (the late 1970’s and 1980’s), in the school of business, students were required to dress for class as though they were reporting for work. Guys in slacks and button up shirts, ladies in dresses, slacks, skirts and blouses, now students wear their PJ’s and slippers to class without repercussions. As a result, it should come as no surprise that millennials don’t meet expectations for business attire, it’s never been important.
In the old days, professors acted like dictators. No one cared how students felt about their professors, much like the boss/employee relationship in the industrial age workforce. Now, positive student evaluations are a big part of a professor’s professional success. Millennials are used to the power of having their voices heard through reviews and social media.
In school, all their conversations were at a personal level with people they know well. We’re talking about casual conversations where you feel free to speak your mind because you know that your family and friends will still love you even if you say the wrong thing…there’s no censoring required. No wonder they say and do things that don’t meet professional expectations on the job, it’s never been an issue for them before…
In short, everyone millennials have interacted with their entire lives, up to graduation, was their cheerleader. They weren’t prepared to be “at the bottom of the ladder.” They expected to have a “seat at the table,” be respected and appreciated when they walked in the door, because they always have. They didn’t realize that “on the job” trust and respect have to be earned.
Getting Millennials Business Ready
Getting millennials “business ready” means learning and growing is needed on everyone’s part. Yes, everyone. Particularly if you’re having huge problems with the new kids on the block, you can benefit from the latest developments in brain science. While it’s standard fare for companies to provide communication and leadership training these days, studies show that traditional approaches haven’t been effective (it doesn’t stick).
Traditional training focuses on a single person, using an approach that’s like drinking from a fire hose. Individual learners are overwhelmed by lots of information in a short period of time, they typically don’t have coworkers to collaborate with on an ongoing basis, and they often return to a workplace that doesn’t reflect or include the information they just learned in its daily operations. So, it’s easy to see how people fall back into their old habits.
To make matters worse, without long term measurement that holds them accountable for results, learners aren’t motivated to improve their behavior. Without ongoing reinforcement, the learning is lost and the time and money spent is wasted.
Three things can improve the results:
- Provide “brain training” to everyone in the organization. Knowing how our brains work, how to improve our brain function, and how we affect others gives everyone the tools and vocabulary needed to get the most out of behavior modification training, along with a whole host of other benefits.
- Provide communication and leadership training to everyone or at least large groups at a time. The combination of communication and leadership training helps millennials learn how to interact with other professionals and think in terms of supporting their team and organization.
The material needs to be presented in digestible chunks, delivered over an extended period of time, and include group interactions to demonstrate how to apply the knowledge. This approach enables learners to support each other and reinforce what they’ve learned, over a long enough period of time, to permanently improve their behavior.
3. Consciously create a culture with a growth mindset that includes an employee development pipeline for every role in the business. Doing so ensures your organization will always have the skilled workforce that it needs. It also increases employee loyalty and lowers turnover when people know they have growth opportunities.
Create an Upward Spiral
Team training that measures individual and group performance over time, is delivered in chunks over several weeks or months, and is reinforced through daily activities and business practices is more effective, promotes comradery, and sets a high performance bar for other teams to emulate. In short, it creates an upward spiral in both moral and performance. It’s a great way to set your team up for success (millennials and all)!
See related article: 10 Reasons Why Millennials Are Good for Business