Do you have a bucket list? I just crossed a big one off mine – delivering a TEDx talk!
My client, Estée Lauder, presented the opportunity to me. It was gratifying to be invited, amazing to watch other live talks and inspirational to see the positive response to my key message: Millennials are our future; let’s stop bashing them.
Griping About Millennials? So Old School
It’s certainly no secret that Millennials have a bad rap. Of course, it’s not a new phenomenon to hear complaints about young people: Gen Xers, like me, were called slackers. Baby Boomers were the original “me” generation.
Why are we so committed to bashing our future generation after generation? And what would happen if we stopped doing this?
Supporting Millennials? It’s Good Business.
During my TEDx talk, I issued this challenge: What if we wholeheartedly, unabashedly, enthusiastically supported young professionals? What if we set our expectations for millennials extremely high, and young professionals lived up to those expectations?
It’s not that I’m a Pollyanna or because supporting millennials would be the nice thing to do. (Well, honestly, I am kind of a Pollyanna and I do think it’s the nice thing to do…) I’m suggesting this supportive approach because it’s just good business.
What’s Good for Customers Is Good for Employees
Sometimes I find myself scratching my head about the disconnect between what companies are willing to do for their millennial customers and what they want to do for their employees.
“Millennials respond to trophies?” say the marketers. “Great! Let’s give them trophies! How big? How shiny? What’s the hashtag?”
But when employees want trophies, we tend to say, “Those millennials are so entitled! No one gave me trophies when I was starting out!”
It’s always an “aha” moment for my audiences when I point that out, and it seemed to resonate with the Estée Lauder group. After all, one of their core constituencies is millennials and they are very successful at knowing how to reach them.
The Bottom Line
Even if you don’t like the way millennials want to be managed or the changes they are bringing to the workplace, the fact remains that this generation is here, it’s huge and it’s not going anywhere.
The companies that continue to be negative about millennials will not have a viable workforce in 20 years. The companies that take a positive approach will succeed in winning the future. And I believe they’ll enjoy the journey a lot more as well.