Put a Fork in Millennials – They’re Done

I wish I wrote better headlines.

A great headline assures readership no matter how poorly written and researched a post/article is. I could have put a number in it I suppose. Those always get pretty good play. Maybe I should have said “The #1 Reason to Put a Fork in Millennials – They’re Done.”

Prolly would have been totes better. But whatevs… this post is all about Millennial bashing (he says, like, with a vocal fry, like, and uptalking at the end, ya know.)

Actually, it’s more about bashing the industry of consultants and gurus who have staked their reputations and careers on the sand that is the “millennial difference.” You’ve all seen the posts, the speeches, the “research”, the whitepapers and the tweets. Millennials are different. They need to be treated different and they have different brains. They are ALIENS!

‘Cept they’re not.

Myth of the Millennials

I have been preaching the fact that millennials are just younger humans than the current crop of humans managing them. I blame it on Gen X and Boomers that never had kids. If they had they would realize that what we attribute to “millennials” has less to do with generational differences than simply being young. I remember my youth (barely) and I wanted to be promoted fast, travel more, and live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. Didn’t we all?

So I thought I’d remind all of us about the Myths of Millennials and offer up a new way to look at employees we rely on to get biz-ness done! The following were pulled from various sites but check these for more detailed discussions:

8 Myths About Millennials at Work That Need to Die

Everything You Think You Know About Millennials is Probably a Myth

They job hop – studies showed that 60% of millennials said staying with their employers was their preferred strategy to advancement versus leaving their organizations.

They favor technology over in-person communications – same study showed that millennials still network like old folks – person to person.

They do the minimum required – When asked how much effort they give beyond what is considered normal, 80% of the millennials in the study answered, “A great deal of effort beyond what’s expected.”

They are more socially conscious – Nope. Responses to “how much I am helping others” and “contribution to society” were among the lowest ranked items in importance of career success measures for the millennials surveyed.

They aren’t motivated to succeed –According to consulting firm CEB, 59% of millennials said competition is “what gets them up in the morning,” compared with 50% of baby boomers.

Millennials are entitled – Millennials are actually less wealthy, less indebted and less employed than previous generations. Baby boomers are far more entitled, some say, and showed it by doing things like enjoying low energy costs for so many years without thinking about how their carbon footprint would affect future generations.

“But Paul – we NEED to put people in buckets. We HAVE to treat people as segments – that’s what we’ve been hearing for years. Now what do we do?”

Do not fret. I’ma gonna tell you how to do it…

The NEW Generational Cohort to Focus On

Gina Pell wrote a post on Medium entitled “Meet the Perennials.” Taking aim squarely at those who seek to categorize and segment our workforce based on age and “generational” stereotypes, she provides a different point of view. And I think she nails it.

“Tolerance feels unattainable when there are hard lines drawn between decades, and terms like Boomers, GenX, and GenY keep us separate and at odds. The media’s adoring gaze is focused solely on the Millennial timeline and it’s lights out for everyone else.”

I know personally I feel this every day. I am not a Millennial. And for many of us who fall outside the somewhat arbitrary range (see the 8 different ranges on Wikipedia) considered to encompass Millennials, we are simply detritus to be “put up with” until we either leave or retire. But we’re not. In my house my “millennial” kids, who are supposed to be so great with technology, stare in wide-eyed wonder at the router wondering why all those lights are blinking. Millennials aren’t tech savvy – they are “app” savvy. You know I’m right.

But Gina Pell suggests that we should look at people in one big group – defined less by age and more by mindset and purpose. Her definition is one that I think most companies should adopt and focus on. Forget the Millennials. Focus on the Perennials.

Perennials:

“…live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic. Perennials are also vectors who have a wide appeal and spread ideas and commerce faster than any single generation. Lady Gaga + Tony Bennett, Lena Dunham + Jenni Konner, Beyoncé + Jay-Z, Bob Dylan, Pharrell Williams, Justin Trudeau, Ellen DeGeneres, Malala, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama, Emma Watson, Elon Musk, Bernie Sanders, Diane Von Furstenberg, Lorne Michaels, Ai Weiwei, Aziz Ansari, the little girl on Stranger Things… #Perennials”

Does that sound cool? It does to me. These are the people I want to focus on.

Don’t focus on age-specific values and attitudes – focus on ageless ones.

Stop listening to generational segregationists and embrace an inclusive point of view. Start engaging the Perennials in your organization.

 

BTW: Gina Pell is the spouse of Dave Pell – writer of the newsletter Next Draft (if you don’t subscribe, do it now! That guy can write headlines!)

FOT Background Check

Paul Hebert
Paul Hebert is the Senior Director of Solutions Architecture at Creative Group Inc and a writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. Over the course of his career, Paul has worked closely with clients to design influence, marketing, motivation, incentive, loyalty, recognition and reward programs to increase effectiveness and reduce costs. Paul is a recognized authority on incentives and performance motivation. Want to know what’s going to motivate your people to perform at their best and impact the bottom line? Want to know whether your service award program really means anything at all? Curious what psychological principles drive sales behavior? Paul’s your guy… unless you fervently bow down to Maslow. Check out his personal blog at "What Is Paul Thinking?" when you're tired of his FOT rants.

6 Comments

  1. Edward Danielski says:

    I cannot tell you how excited I was to read your article re millennials. Unfortunately you and I and about 4 other people agree on what millennials want and need.
    Research upon research, generating articles upon articles have promulgated what millennials want and how to manage them. After all this time expenditure, we find that millennials want rewarding work, decent pay, job security, competent managers, feedback on performance. Some have shouted these “amazing” results from the rooftops and have made a career of seminars and consulting gigs and books on how to manage millennials. What do millennials want? Really, about the same things that employees for the past hundred years have wanted. Yes, we have often failed at good management and performance feedback with other generations, but the concepts are not revolutionary.
    There are indeed those millennials who have the expectations and needs of what the gurus have been telling us. But most of them are clustered in a two block area in downtown San Francisco.
    Good managing, a good place to work, some advancement opportunity, decent pay, growth opportunity, etc,
    Just what has changed?

    • Paul Hebert says:

      Thank you Edward for engaging here. Nothing has changed. We all are human and we all want similar things. Except – as you noted – in that small section of downtown SF. I hear ya!

  2. Kurt Nelson says:

    Paul,

    Can’t remember if it was you and me that had the conversation (you know my memory is starting to go as I age) but this aligns with a conversation I just had that talked about, “it is not so much about generations, as it is about stages of life.” And yes, those stages might be shifting (i.e., fewer people getting married in their twenties and waiting on having kids) – but they are still the stages we all tend to go through. I’d be interested in seeing what Millennials will be saying about the young generation when they get to our age – I’d place money on the idea that it would be pretty similar…

    • Paul Hebert says:

      It is life stage… When I was young I had similar dreams before soul-crushing reality reared its ugly head.

      😉

      And now there is a cottage industry of Millennial consultants focusing on Gen Z and/or Gen C – depending on which gets you more speaking gigs at SHRM.

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