Last week, we discussed how the practice of stereotyping different generations is not just socially acceptable, but somehow encouraged. Unfortunately, stereotyping with generations comes with exactly the same problems that it does in any situation.
Wonderful. But what does this have to do with working with millennials? Sorting that out requires that we recognize three important principles that apply to working with any individual or group of people:
Don’t assume that you know what motivates another person based solely on knowing his or her birth date.
This can be generalized to “Don’t assume you know what motivates another human being.”
There are some famous words in the U.S. Constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” The idea that some truths are self-evident is a pretty big assumption, and while you could argue about whether what follows those words in the Constitution is indeed self-evident, the “self-evident” approach should not be applied to understanding what motivates individuals. I know and work with millennials who work harder than some Gen Xers or baby boomers I know, and so do you. I also know millennials who are less hardworking than those same Gen Xers. In fact, there is a long line of research that debunks the common misconceptions of millennials, like that they’re entitled, self-centered, the “me” generation, or not hard working. It turns out that human beings are a bit like snowflakes—on the surface of it we look pretty similar, but when you look closely, no two are alike. This is certainly the case when it comes to motivation, and making broad assumptions based on stereotyping is likely to end up with incorrect assumptions, which can lead to failure to achieve in the workplace.
The problem we run into when trying to understand what drives individuals is one of time;...
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