First off, I hate the word ‘millennials.’ It makes them sound either like they were born on the millennium, which would make them all 14, or on the Millennium Falcon, which would make them imaginary. Fortunately for me, I’m pretty sure you hate the word too. I just put it in the title because it’s a popular keyword, and I’m a slave to Internet algorithms.
So let’s call them what they really are – young people. Baby people. Barely old enough to shave or vote or feed themselves or do anything useful people. If you’ve been in the working world for a while, why should you care about anything they think? After all, they’re either 14 or imaginary. What could they possibly know?
Well, it turns out they know at least 7 things you should be doing too.
Make a lot of videos. We discovered moving pictures about a century ago, and the last 100 years has only confirmed it as the preferred medium for sharing information, telling stories, generating enthusiasm, and doing pretty much everything else that involves communicating with others. Young people make a lot of videos about a lot of different things. Some of those videos are terrible, but that’s mostly because they’re so easy to make now. But if you’re willing to make 10 short videos and only keep the 1 or 2 that are actually worth watching, you’ll reach your customers more effectively than any press release ever will.
Use your phone to take TONS of pictures. This seemingly annoying 20-something habit can also be incredibly useful and time saving. Need to scan some documents? Need to deposit a check and don’t feel like going to the bank? Meet some lanyard-wearing person at a conference who just ran out of business cards? Cameraphone – done.
Demand more out of your career. Young people want fulfillment and balance out of their jobs, not just a pay check. Older people tend to give them a hard time for that, but then we turn right around and complain about our jobs. If you want more work/life balance, go out and get it. You’d be surprised how many of those barriers you see in the way of your career and life goals are actually self-imposed.
Have fun at work. I’ll never have a business card that reads “Web Ninja” or “IT Wizard,” mostly because I’m no longer wearing braces and stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons a few years ago. That said, work is where you spend 40+ hours of your week. So why not enjoy it? Having an office-wide Silly Hat Competition or a few inside jokes doesn’t take any time away from work and might even (gasp!) make the office a happier place.
Ask for what you want. Young people often ask ridiculous questions. My personal favorite? “When will I get promoted? I’ve been here, like, three weeks already.” However, the worst that can happen from asking a question is that you’ll get an answer you don’t like. But sometimes you’ll get an answer you do like. Case in point: 84% of people who ask for a raise get something more than they had before – more money, more vacation time, more benefits, etc. If you don’t ask, it won’t come to you.
Question why you do what you do. When I was 2, I’m told I annoyed everyone who had the misfortune of talking to me, because I simply wouldn’t stop asking “Why?” about everything. (Fortunately I was adorable, so my mother didn’t abandon me in the woods.) There’s a good chance that the young people you’ve recently hired are also asking a ton of questions, and maybe it’s starting to annoy you. But they’re just trying to understand why things are the way they are. If you’re having trouble coming up with good explanations for them, then maybe your systems aren’t as intelligent and productive as they seem.
Date online. I met my fiancée on a dating site. I had lunch yesterday with a 32-year old who met his wife on a different dating site. They’re expecting their first child in June. You’re welcome to find happiness in any way you choose, but consider: dating sites require you to strike up a conversation before you actually meet. Often it takes weeks before you actually decide it’s worth meeting the person you’ve been talking to on your computer. That might seem foreign, but it also seems a whole lot smarter than hoping the person you’re sitting next to at the bar isn’t actually a nutbar.
There. I hope that makes the baby people you work with seem at least a little more useful than they did otherwise. That said, they also have a whole lot of really dumb habits. But don’t worry. I’ve got an article about that, too.
Jeff Havens is a professional development expert who addresses leadership, generational issues, and other areas of professional development through a unique blend of content and entertainment. He has been a regular guest on Fox Business News and featured in CNBC, BusinessWeek, and Bloomberg News. To learn more about Jeff’s keynote presentations and corporate training, visit JeffHavens.com.