Every generation is unique and beautiful, yet I hear so many people in organizations complain about our young generation. There are many critics and not enough role models.

Here are some of the voices that I hear about young people entering the workforce: 

  • They’re lazy
  • They’re entitled
  • They don’t want to listen
  • They think they know everything and have nothing left to learn
  • They’re bullies
  • They’re disconnected from people and too much on the phone
  • They have no respect for the older generation
  • They have no moral values
  • They have no discipline
  • They want to have too much fun
  • They have no relationship with money
  • They want an 8-hour job

I think this is a pretty good list.

This is also a friendly reminder to think about who raised them. 

I don’t know about you but people said similar things when I was a youngster. The generation gap has always been a challenge because young and old have different opinions, a different way of looking at things and different beliefs. Go figure! They grew up differently. 

I used to teach “The Impact of Culture on the Canadian Workplace” and “Management Communication Skills” at Sheridan College. I think I had the best students in the world and I haven’t observed any of the attributes above. They were all eager to learn, to grow and to contribute, and with some of them I am still in touch.  Maybe I was lucky. However, I like to believe that I was really focused on helping them to become the best they can be. If you look for the best in people, you will get their best behaviour in return. 

Now things may have changed when they entered the workforce because they may start doing what they observe. Be aware!

Here is what I suggest: 

  • Be curious and have good conversations to explore their perspective
  • Instead of a fast judgment, try to understand what’s important for them and why
  • Explore how you can help and support each other
  • Discover together how to bring more meaning (doing good / contribution) and work-life balance into the workplace
  • Allow them to be creative and listen to what they have to say

Our young generation isn’t wired to stay in a job for life and if they do, you must treat them extraordinary well or they will move back into their parents’ basement.

They have observed their parents losing their job after 20+ years and this could also be the reason why they don’t believe in loyalty. They rather go for enjoying life than working their rear end off with little to no appreciation. 

Maybe, just maybe, we can learn a thing or two from them.

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