Competing with millennials is easy (at work)
Millennials are easy to beat in the workplace
There I went and said it. Let the hateful thoughts flow towards me! The younger generation of college-educated humans arriving in the workforce are generally between 22 and 30 years of age. That corresponds to a birth date of 1995 and 1987 respectively. This age group is not the exact definition of millennial, but it is close enough for our purposes here.
When you think of people in this younger age group, I am almost positive that Hard working and driven almost never cross your mind. Even if you are the same age as them! Why is that? Are you making a biased assumption about a certain age group, is it a specific generation that is inherently less motivated, or what? Do you think 30-year-olds back in 1980 were all couch potatoes as well? What about in 1950? I highly doubt you could even find somebody who played WoW back in the 80's let alone played it for 19 hours straight. In fact I'm sure you couldn't because WoW didn't exist. Society has been changing rapidly since the introduction of computers and video games to the mainstream in the mid 80's, and it has created an environment where you can really clean up fiscally by changing a scant few of your own personality traits to more closely align with a traditional business model.
Earlier this month my compatriot DDon published an article entitled "Capitalize on this generations lack of focus" and it was a riveting read. I almost feel bad noticing the negative trends within today's youth as they pertain to business, because once you see the inside track and start to take it, it is very much like shooting fish in a barrel in it's simplicity. Getting ahead can almost be as simple as showing up on time and not saying anything overtly outrageous while working.
So what are the common personality traits of the younger generation that an employer might frown upon? I'm glad you asked here are some of the big ones right here:
- Lack of Focus - Almost every task that a company would need to complete requires the employee's focus. The duty cycle of brain activity for today's youth seems to be much less than an employer would be happy about, and I personally have witnessed team members running at much lower than 20% and still being called upon to perform work as if they were the ideal candidate.
- Punctuality and consistency - If you can be somewhere at or before 8am SHARP every weekday, you will be able to climb a corporate ladder. Don't believe me? Next time you get a chance to work at a matrix or government-run organization, take the opportunity. While you are there pay close attention to how many people show up every day from 8-5 and accomplish absolutely nothing of value. Watch as these people rise beyond a rank any sane person would have thought attainable by them. If this observation sounds petty it is because it is a little bit, but it's also true. That being said, being on time is a character trait that the younger generation is sadly lacking in. It is also low hanging fruit because it is such an easy issue to address.
- Lack of general knowledge - Of course a younger employee will start off with less knowledge than an experienced person in the same field. I am not sure this is generation related, but definitely related to age.
Alright, if all that sounds a bit harsh to you then that just means you have been paying attention. Really these issues can be overcome by applying effort which is something anybody can do regardless of their inherent genetic gifts.
Let's start with lack of focus. Super common issue. In fact, I don't know of anybody in my group of friends or in my company that doesn't have at least some issue focusing on certain tasks. A few activities a person can take to work on this issue are meditation, yoga, and reading. Meditation has been removed from the purely religious application a long time ago, and it's benefit to focus and mental well-being are endlessly being documented. It is almost like somewhere growing up in the early 2000's an entire generation forgot how to turn off all the external distractions and just relax and reset our internal mechanisms and clear our minds. Weird right? Yoga - I would classify as a form of meditation with a certain focus on the body and releasing tension. Yoga is also useful for fixing your broken posture if you happen to use a computer at work all day. Reading a book nonstop for at least 30 minutes or so a day will endow you with almost endless patience and imagination compared to a Facebook/Instagram junkie. These activities are easy to implement, enjoyable, and will yield almost immediate results. No reason not to try one tonight I would say if I were you.
Punctuality. Here it gets a little more complicated. Barring any logistical issues such as a car breaking down or you catching the flu, you should be able to be at the same place at the same time every day with relative ease. After all, you have no excuse right? You are an adult right? Yes and no. The issue lies with motivation of the individual. Many managers struggle with getting their employees motivated and keeping them that way. Many places of employment offer bonuses, profit sharing, reviews, and other carrots to try and keep up the morale. Businesses will also attempt a "stick" method on occasion like writing somebody up for being tardy or passing them over for a promotion. Generally the stick methods are not motivating in the long term. So what can you do about your punctuality and motivation? Honestly not a whole lot. As an intelligent person it seems difficult to justify the same behavior on a daily basis when the world is so large and exciting! What really helps me is to stay physically in shape and to try to hold a routine during the week. These actions will keep me on a schedule of waking up around the same time with the same energy level which is a good thing. After all, if you are automatically awake at 7am and ready to go, why not head off to work? However, if you are stuck in bed with a hangover you are 100x more likely to call in sick.
Lack of general knowledge. Well to counteract man's desire to forget everything and not pay attention, you will have to force yourself to learn. Some things that help you attain a state of mind conducive to this are listed in the 'Lack of focus' paragraph above. Generally speaking, no employer will expect you to go out and learn the trade by yourself or re-invent the wheel on their dime. They should provide you with a mentor, a manager, or at the very least a resource that will tell you how things have been done in the past. Once you can secure that resource you must attempt to learn from it. Just like in college: you can sit down and read and/or take notes during a lecture. And just like in college: there will be an open-book style test where you will need to actually do some of the work the way it was done before, and it will be expected to be right. A benefit you will have that you didn't have in school is that you can probably just go up and ask your boss what to do if you are having a hard time on something. It's like a test that nobody could fail unless they straight up don't care! How easy is work when you think of it like that?
Alright so to tie this all together, to compete in this job market, you can try meditation, yoga, reading, Lifting weights, staying in shape, developing a routine, and learning while you are at work. Even in the millennial generation it would be hard to find somebody who is such a lazy person that they don't do at least some of these activities already. Again, the idea here isn't to go home tonight and to learn how to meditate and do yoga at the same time while starting a px-40 workout regime or whatever. The idea is to cultivate a simple mindset where you can improve yourself at a reasonable rate using these suggestions. Before you know it, that reasonable rate of improvement you have embraced will put you head and shoulders above the competition. You will be making more money, dating higher quality people (lol), and feeling better about life in general. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get started Mr. Millennial man.