Everyone’s been talking about this viral video about working with millenials and it is really interesting. I would add these things to the list of what gets in the way of working with millennials:

  1.  Inauthentic branding. You attract millennial employees with your branding and the extent to which your branding fits with their identity. When you’re not who you say you are, and your brand messaging is incongruent with your user experience – they re-evaluate the extent to which your brand fits with their life. This is about the leadership point he raised. Be who you say you are and lead.
  2. Ineffective or insincere consultation. I’m talking about management styles that bastardize (well-intentioned or not) the adage “millenials love to be consulted.” We do. But if you don’t intend to do anything about what is said, you’re feeding a culture of apathy among a group of people who aren’t going to be motivated to brainstorm about the stuff that really matters because you never listened before. We talk about participation trophies parenting, but corporations and bureaucracies perpetuate this with “Everyone’s opinions matter” town hall meetings and the reality is: everyone’s opinions don’t matter.  Millenials don’t want your participation ribbon consultations. They are a waste of our time and we’ve got stuff to do. If you truly plan to listen: ask. If you don’t: let us get on with our work day, thank you very much. It’s like being invited to Sunday dinner with family who don’t want to hear about the messiness of real life. Don’t ask if you don’t want to hear and if you don’t want to be real with your people at least have the decency to stop dragging them to the table and requiring them to be complicit with a feel-good charade. At least pass the carrots! 
  3. Paying lip service to concepts your organization doesn’t truly embrace. If you’re an old organization steeped in tradition and not open to new ideas, for goodness sakes stop telling your people you want to innovate and become competitive and then when a new idea is presented say, “BUT THIS IS THE WAY WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT.” It’s ok to be traditional, conservative and risk averse. But don’t recruit creatives/millennials if you aren’t willing to work with them because all you end up doing is sucking out their soul and completely burning them out and you don’t get what you need either. Pretending to want to work with creatives is like taking a sports car to get groceries. It’s nice to tell people you have a fancy sports car (“we love to innovate, check out our bean bag chairs, our staff are so creative”). But where the eff are you going to put everything? Maybe you need an old, practical station wagon if you’re going to continue to go get your groceries manually. The people with the sports car get their groceries delivered, they order them online and don’t complain about trunk space because they know that’s not what that’s for. You’re using the wrong tool for the job and then bemoan the tool and you look like a jerk. Stop recruiting creatives/millennials if you don’t want to use them for what they bring to the table. Stop recruiting millenials if you just want their parents’ ideas parroted from bean bag chair height so you can feel hip and relevant without risking anything or changing in any way. It’s embarrassing and it looks like this:

    via giphy
    via giphy

Ultimately, everyone wants to be respected. We aren’t your punchline, we are your workforce. We want to do great things for you, if you let us. We might want to do things a bit differently and that can be scary but stay with us, it’s worth it. Eventually we are going to realize these bean bag chairs are terrible for our posture and we are going to need your advice on ergonomics, so we need you too.

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