It happened again. I saw yet another story describing how businesses should manage millennials in the workplace. Don't buy into the hype that all millennials somehow fit into a single, neat business package ("manage them this way"). Here's why.
Imagine if I wrote multiple blogs -- filled with sweeping stereotypes and so-called guidance for managing other workforce segments (women, men, blacks, whites, Italians, Asians, etc.). Would I be praised -- or fired for such lame, offensive content?
Fact or Fiction?
Let's take a look at this latest Yahoo blog: How Is Your Small Business Managing Millennials In The Workplace?
Here's what the blog claims (i.e., the millennial stereotypes) vs. my own experience managing employees who were born between roughly 1981 to roughly 1994.
1. Work-Life Balance: Yahoo says "Millennials are not willing to give up their lifestyle for their careers." Really? In some cases that can be true. Reality Check: But I also managed a millennial who criss-crossed America on a airplane roughly 40 weeks out of the year. He had never flown before this particular job. Whenever we had an urgent need for him to attend an IT conference, he was the first to raise his hand -- even on weekends. Meanwhile, I was born in 1970. I'm not a millennial. And work-life balance is now the most important thing to me. Only, I call it life-work balance. Life comes first.
2. Go Team, Go: Yahoo says, "Most Millennials are team-oriented, so bringing them together in cooperative groups may be the best way to maximize their potential." Reality Check: Sure, I've worked with team-oriented millennials. But I've also worked with millennials who flew solo -- blogging out of their homes and responding only occasionally to team requests, emails, social media, etc.
3. Recruitment: Yahoo says, "Emphasize how your small business contributes to society." Reality Check: That approach certainly could have applied to a few millennial hires I made. But in several other cases, the millennials' top priorities were (1) starting salary, (2) healthcare coverage and (3) upward mobility to pay college loans and start saving for home purchases. Before they could save the world, they wanted to be on solid financial footing.
4. Motivational Tools: Yahoo says, "Millennials value time and rewards, so offer paid time off, bonuses, and/or gift certificates." Reality Check: How is such a broad statement specific to millennials? Isn't it safe to say most people --in any age category -- would welcome a bonus? (Or am I now guilty of stereotyping all workers?)
Make Me An Offer I Can't Refuse
In a future blog, perhaps I'll have time to write about my Italian heritage, and how all of us Italians are not mobsters. Well, at least not convicted mobsters. (Sarcasm?)
Until then: Please tear down workplace stereotypes -- including age-centric stereotypes. Moreover, take time to discover what makes each of your job candidates and current team members tick, then manage each person accordingly.
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