I am going to state the obvious here. I was not born between 1981 and 1996. I was born into the decade of counterculture and social revolution or, depending on your perspective, of irresponsible excess, flamboyance and the decay of social order. Otherwise known as the 60s. Yes, reader, I am a baby boomer.
I am therefore resourceful, disciplined, team orientated, self-assured and I have a strong work ethic. I am also economically greedy, cynical and unable or unwilling to be compassionate to those who haven’t worked as hard as I have.
Annoying, isn’t it?
Now, imagine being a millennial and being told that you are a work-shy oversensitive ‘snowflake’ who can’t take criticism, needs constant reassurance and can’t even, like, hold a conversation. How would that make you feel?
Yet this is the narrative that has been developed to describe the whole millennial generation. The generation that we baby boomers depend on to pick up the baton and become our future leaders.
What this narrative is missing, in the mainstream at least, is the perspective of the millennials themselves. So if we want to develop millennial talent more effectively, let’s not read another “10 tips for managing millennials”, let’s just ask them how they prefer to be managed. And then let’s look at how we can adapt our workplace cultures accordingly.
Nancy Kline’s book Time to Think is required reading for anyone concerned with leadership, organisational change, coaching and building stronger personal and business relationships. Kline draws attention to the power of listening, not to respond – but to ignite the human mind.
She contends that the mind that holds the problem also holds the solution. That’s why we need to listen to the millennials. Only by doing so can we create, in all sectors of employment, from charitable organisations to global corporations, an environment in which they not only feel heard, but know their voices ‘count’ and their priorities are recognised. By actively listening to them we will help them to think, really think. Creatively, powerfully and beautifully. And that will benefit us all.
I am going to be doing some listening, on Monday 3rd April, when I will be holding what I am hoping will be the first of several workshops with millennials and listening to their experience and views of the workplace.
This will be held in a Central London location from 5pm to 8pm. If you are a millennial, and would like to join the conversation, please message me. If you are an employer, and are prepared to let a millennial-aged member of your team leave work early so that they can attend, please do so. If you would like to sponsor a future, similar, event, perhaps for a group of your millennial talent, let me know.