The real reason Generation X fears Millennials.
My teenage daughters have the best security there is for their social media apps, completely preventing a prying Dad from sneaking a peak. They simply will not teach me how to use anything. By the time I work it out for myself, the entire world has moved on not just to the next thing, but to the next thing after that.
I don’t know whether each generation feels the same way of their offspring, but I sometimes think I live in an upside-down world. The elder of my kids, comes downstairs to ask me to turn down the music or the TV. The younger one reprimands me for leaving the tap on when brushing my teeth. Only a very brave or very stupid man would consider a joke in our house that even borders sexism. I am a motor biker. A non-luddite friend downloaded WhatsApp for me and so I messaged (when did spellcheck even decide that was a legitimate word?) a picture of a new bike I like. Eldest replied with “don’t you already have one like it !!!”. I literally went into her room to see if her mother had typed that.
And don’t get me started about Millennials in the workplace. When did it become okay for less experienced employees to tell us how to run our businesses and what our culture should be? Never mind the continuous need for affirmation, it's as if they need a “Like” every time they do something they are supposed to be doing. And asks for help when they meet a problem they can’t Snapchat their way out of?
Change is hard, admitting you are wrong is hard. Understanding that wisdom is no longer the sole preserve of the experienced is harder still. My kids are far more worldly than I was at their age. My younger colleagues are much wiser than I was at their career stages. Their insight and honesty is so powerful, it is hard at first not to be suspicious of it. But the truth is they really want the world to be a better place and that includes our firms, how they operate and the contribution they make to the community. They have a sense of purpose and need workplaces to be likewise.
Far from being difficult to manage, they work hard to make it easier. They share how they feel about a range of organisational aspects and how they can be more effective. I know large firms that pay big money to consulting houses to gather this type of data, yet it sits right under their noses. The young leaders and colleagues, we are all fortunate to work with, want feedback on whether they are headed in the right direction. They want to work smarter not longer. They want lives outside work, well so do I.
The difficulty my generation had in finding employment back in the 1980’s and 1990’s did not prepare us more than them for the world, it scarred us. The controlling management styles we developed from fear of losing those jobs did not make our organisations stronger, it held them back. Millennials are not flawless, they do not have infinite awareness, they do not have all the answers. But they recognise and admit that. Perhaps this is what my generation most fears about Millennials.
If only social media apps came with a manual.