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Uncomfortable Truths

Five years ago the Millennials (employees ages 18- 34) made up around 10% of the workforce. Today, their numbers have increased to around a third of the workforce, and by 2020, they’ll make up almost half of the workforce.

Last week I asked a large gathering of executives, “Do you have some managers in your organization who constantly complain about the new generation of workers on their teams? Do they have many conflicts and ongoing problems motivating them?” Heads nodded across the large room. Then I asked the nodders, “Are they the same managers who had constant conflicts and complained about their unmotivated people 5 or 6 years ago?” Nods were slower.

Although there is some truth to the disruptive way a small portion of Millennials act out in the workplace today, I believe that more times than not, the “new generation” buzz is just an excuse for a some lazy managers to continue being lazy managers. Whenever there are many books and a boatload of specialty consultants making lots of money on a really hot business topic – it is usually not the whole truth.

An IBM Study (Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths) of 1,784 employees in 12 countries and from six industries reported that:


  • Millennials have similar career aspirations as other generations; they desire financial security and seniority.
  • Millennials don’t really want a trophy; they want a leader who is ethical and fair and they want performance-based recognition and promotions, just like older groups.
  • Millennials don’t really want to do everything online and virtually. When learning something new, they want face-to-face interaction.
  • Millennials leave their organizations for the same reasons as other generations – to get ahead, enter the fast lane, to make money.


What this seems to boil down to is that having an excuse is a lot easier than exerting some effort to understand and appreciate the differences in people. I would suggest that each person, no matter their phase in life, is seeking answers to these three questions: 1) who am I? 2)what are my strengths? 3) Where is my place in the world? If each of us put a little more energy into helping another explore her or his answers, maybe our workplaces would be more productive and our communities and homes might become better places to be.

Journal Entry:
Would this be a good time to take an uncomfortable step in the direction of helping a next generation team member or a kid at home get closer to the the truth about their place in leadership and life?

Millennials are like pets who work sometimes. – U-tube video: Millennials in the Workplace Training

A 2012 analysis of 20 studies and 19,691 people found that generation had nothing to do with employees’ job satisfaction, organizational commitment or turnover intentions – Journal of Business and Psychology. Generational Differences in Work-Related Attitudes

It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one. – George Washington

God grant me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the thing I can; and wisdom to know that it’s ME. – A wise manager’s daily prayer

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