Debunking the myths of the Millennials in the workplace — Part One

I have a problem with labels. Somehow, their intention, to clarify and classify brings limitation. So perhaps my actual problem is not the label but the limits and the implications that those limits bring to life.

If you’re anything like me, being boxed and labeled, classified and identified, is a thorn in the flesh. And again, it is not so much the process or the labels but the widely held, fixed and oversimplified image or idea of who I am that is the irritating splinter.

The reason for me stating this upfront as I write about the Millennials in the workplace is to offer you the insight that no label or definition will accurately or conclusively offer you a ‘totality’ on what this phenomenon is.

Without stating the obvious, but for the sake of inclusion and clarity, you can appreciate that I’m not a big fan of any of the ‘-isms’ e.g. absolutism, classicism, cynicism, legalism to mention a few from a never-ending list. I have unsubscribed from ‘labelism’ years ago when I had a run-in with being marginalised by how people treated me as a result of an ‘-ism’. Essentially the experience was a manifestation of how others coped with their insecurity and/or inadequacy.

So for all the good that stereotypes do, giving a handle on and being able to describe something or someone offering contextual insight, labeling in this way also creates confines.

My birth date makes me a member of the generation X cohort, as statisticians would have it. My choices make me part of the people of generation Y — and herein lies the problem with labeling people. Or a mass of people in this case.

So I dedicate this piece of work to those of you who work with Millennials.

The first myth you can debunk around Millennials, other people in the workplace, is the myth that you know who they are because you know when they where born. You can be a millennium by birth, or by choice, or by both. Illustratively this sketches some of the ways Millennials, otherwise referred to as the “Eco-Boomers”, show up in the workplace: inclusively, limitless (geographically and mentally) with low tolerance for ‘-isms’ (racism, sexism, capitalism).

I find it challenging to work with leaders in business that are unable to re-imagine constructs and investigate for themselves the richness that is excluded from definitions once they are excepted as ‘truth’. Generating and implementing a strategy for the Millennials in the workplace is often as absurd as trying to justify racism.

I say this in context of the fact that who you are is so much more than a label.

When there is a collection of people that share similar interests, social and economic viewpoints, familiarity with media, technology and communication, and they show up collectively in business, is it is not a time for leaders to rethink how they engage meaning and purpose?

The second myth you can debunk around Millennials in the workplace is that they don’t care.

What would happen if leaders engaged in meaning and purpose for themselves? Assisted others through authentic inclusion as they create and support an agile plan of action for others: customers and employees, stakeholders and partners, which unlock and provide value, for the sake of value and not monetary gain? Would the world not be a better place?

In my experience, Millennials, whether by birth or choice, would happily commit to something they believe in. What would this mean for your employee and customer engagement levels if you had a strategy that nailed this?

Who do you need to become to rethink how you do — Millennials in the workplace?

To be continued…

MATT WHITE

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