I was recently at a networking event where someone made the following comment:
"Millennials are not willing to work hard."
I, of course, assume he meant every Millennial except for me.
Statements like this are all too common at events I attend, and as a result I generally just laugh them off. I simply cannot tackle this misconception with every individual I meet. Talk about an energy drain.
But in this instance, that particular comment led to some great conversations with other people later in the event. Another man, who had overheard this comment, came up to me later to talk about that very same problem.
(Did I mention I was possibly the only Millennial in the room?)
Anyway, he shared a situation he had been in recently that I think says a great deal about him and his supervising skills. He makes a regular habit of walking the floors he manages and paying attention to the people who work for him. He tries to remember names, significant others, pets, upcoming events, etc.
Kudos to him.
During one of these times, he became frustrated by the number of staff members he saw on their phones. His immediate reaction, similar to many of us, was to do something about it. Productivity was suffering! But he didn't go on a rampage. Instead, he had the wherewithal to ask a supervisor (whom he manages) about how this supervisor felt the problem should be dealt with.
Seeks another perspective - genius!
And this supervisor said what he thought they should do about it was...nothing. What!?!!
And here comes the important part, so listen up. This supervisor explained to my new friend that his younger staff use phone time in a similar way to how older staff members use their break to get coffee. He believed the same need for a quick break was being realized, it just looked different than my friend was used to. He said this group would put their phones away after a few minutes and be just as productive as anyone else, even more so, and that stepping in and saying something would lower morale and prevent his staff from the much needed break this phone time gave them.
Best part; this guy I was talking to listened. He let it be. Not only did this man understand the profound value of caring about his employees and their lives, he took it further.
He recognized the importance of asking questions.
He recognized that Millennials might have different needs than he did.
He recognized that differences in work strategy are fine.