A Millenial’s Perspective: The Top 5 Issues with Millenials
By Matthew Tsang
Let me preface this by saying that throughout the majority of my career, I have worked with, and for, Millenials. As a Millienial myself, I love our generation and what it has to offer, but like anything, we have negative aspects. I have been an active participant of the intergenerational workplace conversation for a while now and, through that experience, I’ve personally compiled a list of common issues when working with this age group.
1. Reserving our best for the ‘real thing’
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen the whole “just wait until I give it my all” mentality from a Millenial – including myself. What is this inherent desire of our generation to always want to seem like we have more to offer than we’re currently offering? I believe it stems from the trophy-for-participation mentality. Everyone, including ourselves, has built up our self-confidence to the point that we believe we can, and will, achieve the highest standards. We’ve put our potential on a pedestal, and we’re secretly insecure in our ability to reach that potential. In many ways, it is unfair pressure to put on ourselves, so we react by constantly reserving our best in hopes that we don’t disappoint ourselves, and others.
2. Believing the speed of technology to be our own speed
It is undeniable that technology has made a lot of things faster. It is false to believe that just because we’ve grown up in the digital age with high-speed internet and smartphones, that we as human beings are faster. Important skills like thinking fast (and smart) and problem solving will still take us longer than someone with 20+ years of experience. To think otherwise is as ludicrous as assuming that just because you’re really good at handling a spatula, you’re the next Jamie Oliver. Yes, the internet and all the technology that surrounds is vital for businesses, but it’s nowhere near to being the answer to everything. Like anything else, it’s just a tool. We should use it to our advantage, but never forget that there’s always much more to learn.
3. Believing theoretical knowledge is ‘close enough’ to actual knowledge
Ever since we were young, our parents have emphasized the importance of education – believing that a university degree was the first and only step towards a healthy career. It is undoubtedly an important aspect, but it doesn’t guarantee a successful career like it used to. A lot of what is learned in university and college is theory, and we’ve been taught to believe that the hard skills we learn there is enough to make up for the soft skills we lack. It isn’t, and it never will be. Theoretical knowledge will always be theory, and until something is experienced, it is never truly learned.
4. Being impatient
Speed from modern technology has solved a lot of our problems. Have a question? Ask Google. Need help with your taxes? Install TurboTax. Want a tutorial on how to debone a fish? Ask YouTube. But with all this speed and instantaneous satisfaction, a new issue has risen: the inability for us to be patient. The inevitable turtle-like speed of bureaucracy in certain companies is illogical and infuriating for our generation. But as much as we are not used to things moving slowly – we should learn. Patience is one of the lost skills of Millenials, and no matter how fast the world is or can be at times, being patient saves us from making impulsive and detrimental decisions – such as this.
5. Misconceptions of entrepreneurism
In 2011 alone, 52,795 people aged 15 to 39 started their own business. Millenials going it alone is common nowadays and is a side effect of the tough job market. It’s also a side effect from all the publicity young entrepreneurs like Alexis Ohanian and Mark Zuckerberg receive. But, the reality is, those stories are rare, and more often than not companies with young entrepreneurs fail. Being a young and relatively inexperienced entrepreneur is hard, and not always all it is cracked up to be. Cool offices with ping pong tables and flex hours doesn’t exist in every start-up; the only guarantee every start-up has is this. We need to be prepared and know what it really means to be an entrepreneur, before we metaphorically – and idealistically – jump in with both feet.
There are always exceptions and anomalies to this list, but I’ve compiled this after years of experience working with, and for, Millenials. And as you read this, know that I wasn’t here just trying to bash our generation. Like I said, I still do some of these things myself, but I’m learning and so are many of us. We have many positive attributes as well, and other generations can learn to forgive us for our faults a lot easier too. If you have any thoughts on this list – anything you’d like to add or subtract – I’d love to hear it. Post a comment below.
Matthew Tsang is a committee member of the XYBOOM Conference, which centers on the theme: “From Workplace Tension to Intergenerational Collaboration”. Participants will walk away with strategies and insights from innovative panelists such as Carol Chiang, Partner at KPMG, Val Litwin, VP of Franchise Operations at Nurse Next Door, and James Palmer, VP of Sales and Marketing at Great Little Box Co. This is a modified blog post with content originally from the blog of My Loud Speaker Advertising.