So here is my issue with this whole “Millennial Malaise”, or the constant chatter about those “entitled” younger folks we see at work and in society at large. Why do we talk as if they are all the same? We need to stop grouping together based on their date of birth and assigning characteristics to them. In my mind, and in my experience, this is no different than assuming you know something about someone based on their country of origin, or perhaps the colour of their skin. Badmouthing younger people is convenient, and it makes for interesting TED talks, but it misses the point.
As leaders we need to inspire our followers in deeply personal ways. We need to understand their personal values and goals and create shared goals by showing how their needs are met by working together. All the negative stereotyping simply allows leaders to make excuses for why people are not following us, rather than owning your lack of ability to inspire a shared vision. There is nothing at all that tells us that people who are currently between 20 and 35 years old are less interested in working together towards a common goal. In fact, the stereotype supports the idea that they like to collaborate… but don’t let me fall into the generalization trap. As far as “entitled” goes, there have always been people who feel that they should not have to work as hard as others and there always will be. There are also people of all ages who want to work hard and expect to be rewarded for their efforts.
Let’s try to stay out of the generalization trap and stop looking for why you can’t motivate people. We all need to take responsibility and make the effort to connect with people, find out what matters to them, and then inspire them appropriately.