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What to do about the "Millennial Issue"...

What to do about the "Millennial Issue"...

February 16, 2017

Hold on. Don’t turn the hose on me yet.

As the CEO of Brand Launcher, I deal with the “Millennial Issue” (anyone born after 1984) all of the time, especially during family-owned companies’ generational handoffs.

I constantly hear owners complain that Millennials:

  1. Lack “work ethic”
  2. Are difficult to manage
  3. Have an attitude of entitlement
  4. Can’t handle rejection

And the list goes on!

I’m writing today to shed a different light on “those Millennials” and challenge the status quo of how most leaders interact with them. Ready?

I recently listened to a fantastic interview with Simon Sinek on Inside Quest in September 2016. You may know Simon Sinek from his groundbreaking TED Talk in 2010, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” which is the third most watched TED Talk of all time. In one line: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

At the end of the interview, Simon spoke about the “Millennial Issue” and really got me thinking.

Millennials are actually a talented, smart, educated, driven group of people. So why do they seem to be so challenging?

And more importantly, as business leaders, what do we do about it?

How do we get this group of talented people to “turn on” for us and deliver the goods we know they possess?


[CLICK HERE to Get 5 Tips to Fix the Generational Mess.]


Let’s take a step back and get into the heads and hearts of Millennials. What’s driving them?

Millennials say that they want to work in a place with purpose and want to “make an impact”. And of course have fun and get free food. They’ve been told their whole lives that they should do something that makes a difference in the world, that plain old steady jobs have no glamour. “Do what you love and you won’t work a day of your life.”

But what’s happening is that Millennials seemingly have these jobs, but they’re still not happy.

Many are jumping from employer to employer trying to find their “dream job.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the median tenure of workers between the ages 25 to 34 years is 2.8 years. Because there is the highest rate ever in the past 75 years of adult children living at home with a whopping 40% of your Americans living with their parents, siblings or other relatives, Millennials are afforded a greater chance for “career exploration” while maintaining a higher lifestyle. If you’re tied to your mortgage, that paycheck becomes more important than “making an impact” with your job.

But here’s the piece that most leaders don’t know (or don’t want to admit.).

It’s not the Millennials’ fault.

Many life circumstances that have stacked the deck against Millennials, stifling their chance of success in the work force. They simply haven’t acquired the skills and experience to weather the working world the way previous generations have.

And although there are no excuses for poor behavior, putting our judgement aside and truly understanding Millennials and their life circumstances will help us understand what we can do to change the status quo.

Below are 3 Environmental Causes of the “Poor Millennial Work Habits.”

1. Parenting: this generation was brought up on “failed parenting” techniques.

Millennials have been coddled by their parents and lulled into believing that they could have anything they wanted, just for the asking. They were told that they were special - all of the time. And if things didn’t go their way, Mommy and Daddy would complain enough to affect better results. Grade inflation was common and “participation trophies” devalued the effort it took to actually win.

Now this generation graduated and got thrust into jobs where they realized that they are not special, and they get nothing for simply participating. Their parents can’t affect the outcome of their daily grind, and they learned that they can’t get everything because they want it. Grit, determination, perseverance and sweat have been replaced by images of self-made billionaires still in their 20’s.

The irony is that this parental indulgence has produced people with lower self-esteem than previous generations who achieved merit through their own efforts.

2. Technology: the addictive character of electronic devices and Facebook likes.

(Warning: this affects all of us.)

Engaging with social media and our cell phones produces a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is the same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, drink and gamble: it’s highly addictive.

Now, we have an entire generation that has constant access to the addictive, numbing chemical of dopamine. Millennials learned that during stress and anxiety they can simply turn to their dopamine releasing cell phone and get a shot of “feel good juices” instead of learning the coping mechanisms that the rest of us were forced to learn, especially during adolescence.

Learn more about dopamine and 5 techniques to break free from its addictive nature here.

3. Impatience: The Instant Gratification Game

Remember Veruca Salt from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” “Don’t care how, I want it now!” The Millennial generation was brought up smothered with instant gratification.

Want to watch a movie? Download it instantly. Order something on Amazon? It arrives the next day or sooner. Want to go out on a date? Swipe right!

The problem is that there are 2 things (among others) that you simply can’t get instantly- job satisfaction and meaningful relationships. Both take patience, perseverance, discomfort and time.

So here’s the bottom line: As business owners, and more importantly, leaders, it’s our responsibility to fill in the gaps for these Millennials where their environment has failed.

The reality is that Millennials are in the workforce, and here to stay. In fact, sooner than we may want to admit, they’ll be the new generation of leaders.

It’s time for us to make the shift from being reactive to the “Millennial problem” and start being proactive in giving them the tools and training to succeed.

Make the shift from being a Cop to a Coach and start thinking of yourself as a leader, instead of a boss or manager. Check out one Brand Launcher member, Chad Silverstein, CEO of Choice Recovery who made the transition from Cop to Coach and is now outdoing his competitors by 5-15%. Read his story here.


[CLICK HERE to Get 5 Tips to Fix the Generational Mess.]


Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,


P.S. Do you have any suggestions that have worked for you in developing your Millennial team? Send them in to info@brandlauncher.com for a chance to get featured in an upcoming blog!