The content of this post is inspired by a recent presentation by Simon Sinek. You can watch the video here.
Millennials. I’m sure we all have our opinions on this generation. Usually, the term “entitled” is used to describe them. More than likely, the majority of your staff is made up of Millennials, and you probably have a hard time training them.
In Simon Sinek’s opinion, Millennials are simply misunderstood by most of us. And if we don’t understand them, then we can’t possibly train them. This post breaks down the four aspects that make Millennials different from previous generations.
Millennials are partly a product of a failed parenting strategy. As kids, they were told they were special and they could have anything they wanted. If they didn’t get into an honors class, the parents complained until they were enrolled. If they came in last, they were given a medal. In fact, many refer to these kids as the “Participation Trophy” generation.
After graduating and coming into the “real world”, Millennials were hit with a huge dose of reality. They learned that they aren’t special, they don’t get medals for coming in last, and they can’t depend on their parents for everything.
These kids thought they could get anything they want just by asking for it, which is why we think they are entitled. In reality, they simply have less self-confidence than previous generations.
When people hear their notification for a text message, they get a dose of dopamine from the brain. We all know that feeling when we get a text or we have an Instagram notification. It feels good. But the dopamine is dangerous because it’s the underlying chemical for addiction.
Through adolescence, kids learn social skills from friends and they learn to rely on those friends for support. During this adolescent stage, some kids discover alcohol. They enjoy the dopamine release they get from alcohol, and it helps with the stress of being a teenager. This connection between alcohol (dopamine) and feeling good becomes hard-wired, and they learn to rely on alcohol instead of friends.
The same thing is happening with Millennials, but with technology instead of alcohol. These kids make the same hard-wired connection and learn to rely on technology for support. As a result, Millennials feel even more isolated and depressed. And here’s the most dangerous part: most of us don’t realize the kids are depressed. Their Instagram pages seem as though they are happy, but we don’t see past the facade.
Millennials have grown up in a world of instant gratification: next-day delivery from online orders, binge-watching entire seasons of TV shows, and immediate dates just by “swiping right.” Most of us see instant gratification as a privilege and a luxury: we know what it was like before these things existed. But Millennials have only known instant gratification. They falsely believe it’s the norm, and they apply this expectation to everything in life, including job satisfaction.
But life doesn’t work this way. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to achieve job and career satisfaction.
This is summed up perfectly in a quote by Simon Sinek from the presentation.
“So we’ve got a group of people who’ve grown up with lower self-confidence, with an addiction to devices and an inability to ask for help when they need it. We can say, ‘My door is always open’…thinking they have the courage to come in. Wanting everything to get fixed now. And then we’re asking them to work in corporate environments that prioritize numbers over them. That means they never get the feeling that somebody cares about them.”
In Simon’s eyes, we have a higher responsibility to teach them confidence, get them off their devices and instill a sense of patience. So the question is, do you focus on these three things when training Millennials? If not, you probably should.