Much Ado about Managing Millennials
It astonishes me how much time, money, effort, and energy is spent on the topic of attracting, managing, and retaining professionals born between 1980-2000, the Millennial generation as they are called. The Wall Street Journal reported that in the U.S. alone, organizations spent between $60-$70 Million on generational consulting of some kind. In my experience, all of those resources are wasted at best, and counterproductive at worst. It seems that the search for a Millennial magic bullet keeps us busy doing everything except what we already know works when it comes to managing people. It’s the equivalent of researching and spending money on a new kind of diet to lose weight, instead of applying the nearly 100% effective method of eating less and moving more. It’s clear to me that while some differences between younger and older workers always exist, it’s unlikely that there are substantive differences. A synthesis of over 20 separate studies published in the Journal of Business and Psychology backs me up on this.
Last month I wrote this article for Forbes on the topic of managing Millennials because, in my experience, it’s not that different from effectively managing people from other age groups, races, religions, or socioeconomic backgrounds. In all instances, we have to take in to account individual preferences, organizational needs, and employ the “common-sense-but-not-common-practice” leadership approaches that a vast majority of professionals respond to positively. I had fun writing about this topic, and I got to use one of my favorite quotations, which perfectly captures the issue at hand.
“‘What’s new?’ is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question ‘What is best?’; a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly.” From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig.
A Slice of Life Balance
My grandfather used to subscribe to Reader’s Digest and I would read only one section from every issue. That section: Laughter the Best Medicine. I was young, so occasionally I had to ask him to explain what was funny about a joke or story. For many years I never missed an issue.
Too many of us have forgotten to laugh and let’s face it, there are plenty of things that are no laughing matter. Look a bit closer though and you may find plenty that is. I find most of my clients would benefit from a little more lightness, or just flat out enjoy some humor in their days.
There are many studies confirming that laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Humor lightens your burdens, improves your mood, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded. Especially when you can laugh at yourself.
What do you do to find the humor in a situation or bring some levity to a meeting at work or at your dinner table? Can you spot comical inconsistencies or absurdity in a situation at work or with friends? Are you able to appreciate others’ attempts at humor-even if they aren’t funny? Or, as is in the case with some of my friends, make the fact that someone wasn’t funny the very thing that is funny.
Make a point of laughing, even a little, every day. It may seriously improve your life.
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