In Defense Of Millennials

When a seasoned entrepreneur meets a budding millennial, the workplace needs to get ready for a catastrophe. For some of my friends running in the big leagues, I’ve heard a lot of remarks when it comes to this young workforce — a lot of antagonistic adjectives, actually: apathetic, lazy, disrespectful, and disloyal, just the worst possible qualities of a person if you would believe them as they are. They say that these people always want tangible result the moment they ask for it, which is what irks some of the traditional entrepreneurs the most. I’m writing this article today to join the few who would like to disprove these comments and show a different side of the new generation workforce, the millennials.

I’ve had a lot of fun with so many of them in my company, especially because they are about 90 percent of it. I’ve learned quite a number of things that surprised me and changed the management style in our workplace.

I tried to think about the possible reasons why our Generation X and the new working generation (Generation Y) could not easily get along. I found out that, really, the only reason is because we cannot see each other’s way of living. And because we cannot see them, we stop to understand them, and in the end, start hating them for being different from the “standard” that we claim is needed in the workplace. Here are some observations that I’ve made throughout the years managing our company filled with fireworks, balloons, and yes, millennials:

Every day is a parade filled with chattering people as far as the eye could see. At first, I thought that it was a nuisance, and that it affects our productivity negatively. That is until I found the office continuously hitting our quota, even with the target increase every year. There was actually more to it than just noise. I found their value of community. In a setting as micro as a clumped cubicle, millennials can easily build a community among them. They become friends easily and their bond grows overtime. What does this have to do with working? How about a solid team who could cooperate with each other to accomplish any given task? Or a positive environment that induces a positive working attitude? Millennials are pack workers. They are noisy in groups, but they work incredibly fast and efficient when together.

I asked my friends why they thought millennials were apathetic and they said that it was because they rarely gave useful opinions, which left me in complete disbelief. They (millennials) have been known to be the most opinionated generation since the dawn of social media. But it extends even outside the Internet. They have their own beliefs kept inside of them just waiting for a group that welcomes their opinions. They are blunt. They will say everything without stop — the good, the bad, the ugly, and the plain grotesque if simply put in the proper condition. I have received a lot of opposing feedbacks when I made a few changes in our work methods; some of them were so valuable that they became part of our system. The problem really is because traditional entrepreneurs love to make it like an ancient patriarchal society in the office, that the dominant has the right to speak and young ones must wait for their turn, speaking only what is favorable for their superiors. Try open dialogues. Show them that you are approachable and they will start speaking to you.

Gone are the days where putting object A in box 1 and B in box 2 are the bomb. Millennials can smell a dead-end job a mile away, or the moment when a brick wall was just build on their path. When they get trapped, they either jump from the boat or get too demotivated to work well. Some of the traditional entrepreneurs would say that this is entitlement and that millennials should be happy to simply have a job. I find that statement hypocritical. No one wants to be at the bottom of the ladder. It just so happened that millennials became the most eager to take the first few steps early. True, that we have been accustomed to spending many years in the same practice to get promoted, and that is what some of us would like the system to be. I have faced a lot of these people from the new generation, quite a number really considering interviews. What I found out was that the problem was not centered on not being promoted, but rather being stuck on the same repetitive job or task. They love to learn, even when working. They are eager to add new skills and try new things. This is where job rotation is effective. It promotes dynamics and will prevent boredom that spawns lazy employees.

Millennials might not meet the standards that we have become accustomed to or we have personality built. But given the right circumstances and the right adjustments, you will see how the new generation workforce can be as efficient (and even more) than we have thought of them. In the end, it is the bottom line that counts and we should not think less of them just because the way of the millennials is different.

*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-6, Sunday, November 22, 2015. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.