Here's how Millennials turn their greatest workplace weaknesses into the strengths necessary to be effective next generation leaders.
As a Millennial speaker who helps organizations better lead, engage, and communicate with the Millennials, my audiences share with me the good, bad, and ugly about their Millennial workforce. Below are the top eight shortcomings that I've heard over the years and how Millennials can overcome each shortcoming in order to become influential future leaders.
1. Poor Work Ethic
Millennials report working an average of 38.8 hours per week, much less than Generation X (47.8) or Boomers (47.1).
"Lazy" Millennials are redefining a strong work ethic. Thanks to technology and the Internet, the tools, rules, and pace of work have forever changed. Both managers and Millennials have to rethink what productive work can and should be in the digital age. Millennials are interested in leaning into technology to work smarter and to find work/life harmony.
Work has changed in the 21st century, but the effort, zeal, focus, and respect we inject into work should never change. Millennials who view their employer as their top client and consider their work ethic the product they deliver to them will build a reputation of excellence. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
2. Devalue Face-to-Face Communication
Millennial women use texting three times more often than calling.
Millennials' high reliance on technology has resulted in a deterioration of other interpersonal skills. While Millennials have good reason not to answer your phone call, there is still tremendous value in face-to-face communication and if leveraged appropriately can forge deeper connections.
With so many varying communication preferences in today's workplaces, Millennials can stand out by changing the channel and engaging in face-to-face communications. Read this to discover how Millennials can best communicate face-to-face. Read this for 1 tip to eliminate miscommunication across generations.
3. Career Impatience
Seventy-one percent of Millennials likely to leave a company within two years believe their leadership skills are not being fully developed.
Even though work is shifting to more project based work with shorter turnarounds and timelines, managers continue to wrestle with the unrealistic career advancement expectations of Millennials. Growing up in fast times and coming of age in an on-demand culture, Millennials have little patience for stagnation, especially when it comes to their careers.
Millennials who gain early clarity surrounding their career progression inside their organization will be able to adjust their expectations and explore cross-collaboration opportunities to gain more experience and to put their anxious ambition to good use.
4. Frequently Job Hop
Sixty-six percent of Millennials expect to leave their organization by the end of 2020.
Job hopping isn't the resume red flag that it once was. Job hopping into the same industry and position over and over again is the new red flag. Job hopping into new industries or positions can simply reflect Millennials' desire to gain transferable skills in order to thrive in today's flux marketplace.
Millennials who set clear goals and objectives with specific timelines during the first few weeks of a new job will be better equipped to justify and execute a job hop. While still subjective, Mary Ellen Slayter, a career expert at Monster.com, says to avoid stints of less than one year. Before hopping, notice how green the grass is under your feet before looking over the fence.
5. Dependent on Feedback
Millennials want feedback 50 percent more often than other employees.
It's not surprising that Millennials want frequent feedback considering they grew up gaming which immersed them in constant feedback loops. Now that technology has enabled vast and fast connection, real-time feedback will become more of a workplace norm.
Millennials who take feedback into their own hands and exercise self-reflecting on their past performance will develop a self-evaluation muscle that can be flexed in real-time creating greater self-awareness and productivity. Leveraging collaborative technologies like Slack, Waggl, or TinyPulse can satisfy Millennials' desires for real-time feedback. (Read this for a simple strategy to deliver feedback to Millennials.)
6. Fixated on Flexibility
Eighty-eight percent of Millennials wish they could have greater opportunity to start and finish work at the times they choose.
Mobile technology has shifted work from a place to a space. Millennials have a boundary-less view when it comes to when, where, and how work can be done. Yet it's important to be mindful of the timing expectations or requirements of colleagues and/or customers.
Millennials who gain clarity on the outcomes they are responsible for and achieve those outcomes on a routine basis will have the necessary credibility to earn greater flexibility. Prove that those outcomes won't dip with increased flexibility by continuing to deliver efficient communication and satisfactory performance.
7. Lack of Experience
Twenty-five percent of Millennials have taken an unpaid job to gain experience.
Millennials are often overlooked due to lack of experience. But what value does experience hold in a culture of perpetual beta? The school of thought that experience is needed to produce high-quality work is permanently expelled in today's digital age. In a world that moves fast, fresh perspectives and skills have new value. The new world of work will reward those experienced in being inexperienced.
Millennials that want to squash the lack of experience shortcoming must demonstrate honest gratitude for the people and processes that preceded them while applying conviction and a strong work ethic behind their ideas. (Read this for tips on how Millennials can successfully pitch their ideas.)
8. Act Entitled
Sixty-one percent of American adults think of Millennials as "entitled."
There probably isn't another word more synonymous to Millennials than the word entitled. Whether or not you believe Millennials are entitled, with 61 percent of American adults believing they are...perception is reality, and Millennials should do what they can to combat the label.
Millennials who demand or expect things too fast instead of being patient and respectful only expose their naiveness as young professionals. Give your effort, help, and support without expecting anything in return. Don't demand anything, earn everything.
Looking for a proven and effective way to develop your Millennial workforce? Check out 21Mill, the first ever micro-learning platform designed specifically to develop Millennials. (Full disclosure: I am a proud partner of 21Mill.)
Question: How else can Millennials overcome their weaknesses?