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Trevor E. S. Smith | The Millennials Are Here! What now?

Published:Monday | October 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith

"I can't deal with these young people!" an exasperated friend shared in a brief parking lot encounter recently.

"Millennials refuse to buy into anything that is not their initiative," fumed an executive who is engaged in a project with millennials.

"I was surprised at how few of the standard references and analogies had any meaning for them," confessed a facilitator of a leadership workshop with Millennials.

The Millennials (born late 1980s to late 1990s), are here and in large numbers. They are gradually becoming the largest percentage of the workforce, as well as occupying positions of influence. Millennials are definitely here and cannot be ignored.

At the same time, even Generation X, which just preceded the Millennials, seem to bristle in interactions with them. One common theme is that the liberal philosophy, brashness and sense of entitlement that is often exhibited by Millennials, flies in the face of the discipline, patience and struggle that is integral to the lives of those who have gone before. It smacks of disrespect and/or ignorance.


What Now? A Millennial Perspective


Prescribing for Millennials is tricky. Nevertheless, the following might make a positive difference:




Invest time in learning about the contributions and the failures of those who have prepared the platform from which you are launching your future. Being ignorant of your heritage is a major disadvantage.


Dare to make a difference


You are frustrated with the OLD (fill in blanks). Instead of griping about it, give thoughtful consideration to improvements and/or replacements. You need not continue to live with the effects of FAILED (fill in blanks). When something is missing, it's your call to fill in.


Purposeful Renewal


A 50-year-old tree can be uprooted in minutes. Tearing down is infinitely easier than engaging in the serious evaluation and planning that is required for purposeful renewal. Life is more than a campus debate to win arguments. Lives, including yours, will be impacted by your decisions or indecision, and your action or inaction.


Engage not enrage


Straight out of university, I was buffeted by a middle-age supervisor who did not have the benefit of tertiary education. I made a commitment to win her over - I humbled myself. My degree does not mean that I think I know it all, I viewed the caustic reprimands and stretched assignments as an opportunity to build character ... and to win her over. I achieved both and thank her for the experience.


A Non-Millennial Perspective


Truth be told, you could well have been guilty of driving your elders crazy. Every generation fears for the disaster that those that follow will visit upon the earth.

Yet, we have not regressed and may arguably have progressed.


Face Reality


The Millennials are here and they are not going anywhere soon. Get past your frustrations. Set about strategies that will result in positive and meaningful interaction with Millennials.


Give up Venting for Mentoring


At some point in your career, you were blessed by someone's guidance. Take the time and patience to share some of your wisdom and life skills with the Millennial who is your greatest challenge. Make a commitment to enhance his/her development.


Exasperation only increases your frustration.


The organisation installs new software. You don't fuss about it in parking lots. You undergo the requisite training and maximise the benefits that are available through interacting with the new system.

Why not take the same approach to the Millennial issue?

It is a new phenomenon and many of us honestly do not know how to deal with it. HR practitioners and training managers need to be alert to this skill gap and seek solutions to fill it.

The alternate is even lower engagement levels, the frustration and loss of valued talent and a hostile work environment.

Why not schedule a call to learn more about a Future-Readiness Initiative that addresses this issue frontally from both perspectives? Get more information from this link:

- Trevor E. S. Smith and the Success with People Academy team prepare and certify coach mentors and develop high-performing teams. Hire smart with their recruitment solutions. Now enrolling for the January cohort of the Certified Behavioural Coach programme. Email: