How Millennials Are Hurting Themselves – Long Live Gen X!

[Typically, I have avoided writing about the various generations in the workplace, but after a couple of interactions this week, it was just too important to speak up. – Scott]

Nobody wants to tell them directly (likely for fear of hurting their feelings) so I am going to offer this piece of (albeit general and somewhat biased) advice:


Let me be clear, as a leadership development professional, I believe that MOST people have inside them the ability to achieve great success.  When I work with groups, I often remind them, “The why and the what are the easy part, it is the how that requires effort.”

The WHY and the WHAT are the easy part, it is the HOW that requires effort.

– Scott Cooksey,

If you’re looking for the “cheat code” for success, here it is: EFFORT.

Real Life Doesn’t Hand Out Juice Boxes

cooler-juice-boxesThe occasional corporate function aside, life doesn’t give out juice boxes and ribbons to everyone for showing up.  Nope.  You have to earn them.  Is it hard? YES.  Do you need to put in some time to “earn your dues”? YES.  Are Baby Boomers sometimes afraid to tell you this? YES…because you keep getting hired as their supervisor (for reasons I cannot explain.)  Your Gen X manager, however, will take that juice box away if you cannot do the job.  Here are some tips for millennials to help navigate the rough waters of reality.

  • Look people in the eye when you talk with them. Seriously!  It’s how people interact.  Have confidence (not arrogance) when you interact with co-workers, your boss, customers, each other.  It is amazing what happens when people connect on a human, emotion-engaged level.  Stop gazing at the floor, your phone, or off into space when people are speaking with you.  It’s disrespectful.
  • Social media cannot solve all of your problems. At risk of sounding repetitive, get your face OUT of your “smart phone”.  That last automated tweet your company sent out using “the best formula for generating results” is fake.  Everyone knows it.  Stop “catfishing” your boss, customers and yourself and quit whining about EVERYTHING.  If you are not helping achieve positive results, you are in the way. Choose to be part of the solution, not simply “tweet” about it. Some problems really are larger than a #hashtag.
  • No.  A neck tattoo is NEVER a good idea.  EVER.  I am not even going to explain this one.  Just DON’T.
  • Social causes are great.  They are NOT a replacement, however, for doing a good job.  We live in an unforgiving world full of people who don’t understand each other, need a hand up, and many who are willing to help out.  That said, companies exist to for one reason: To make money.  Volunteer on your own time without expecting to get paid for it (See Dictionary: “volunteer”) or becoming the next “celebrity volunteer” or reality show star.  Just do something good because you want to.
  • Wait your turn.  About Y2K (that’s likely late elementary or Jr High for many of you millennials), everyone told the generation ahead of you that the Baby Boomers were all going to retire and “hand over the reigns” to Gen X.  Then the bottom fell out of the stock market ( a couple of times) and terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11.  Many of the Baby Boomers, as a result, are STILL WORKING because they simply do not have the investments/cash to retire.Millennials2Now, though, it seems the media is OBSESSED with Millennials.  You are the “next great thing“.  You are “digital natives”.  You are going to solve all of the world’s problems.   Well, I have news for you.  Every young generation has been told the same thing.  And as a proud member of Generation X who seems to have been forgotten about in the midst of all of these daily crises, I stand up and say to you: When we are ready, you’ll get your shot.  It’s time for us to do OUR life’s work.  We don’t expect a trophy we didn’t earn.  We just might have a little more of a chip on our shoulders than we’ve ever been given credit for having. For that, I will not apologize.So, for now, millennials: keep your chin up.  Work hard.  Your time will come.  We will teach you the what and the why but you have to figure out the how by yourself.  We did…

    OH, no…. Now I sound like a Baby Boomer……




  1. amyhartgro on March 4, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I like that you speak your mind and agree with many of the things you’ve said. However, the biggest reason that people are focused more on the Millennials and less on Gen X is more numbers than anything else. You guys are sandwiched between two huge “self-absorbed” generations and I read just recently that Millennials now outnumber Boomers in the workplace. Every generation changes the workplace. But considering the numbers, technology, and their adaptability to change, Millennials wield powerful clout in the workplace as well as how we do business, and it’ll get stronger, not weaker. Just saying…..

    • IdeaCharger on March 5, 2015 at 6:16 am

      Amy- I appreciate your thoughts on this article. I agree each generation has a set of gifts and unique perspectives that will change the workforce. No doubt many in this group are going to impact the world in a very large way…some already have. I really wanted to highlight how “connection” never goes out of style and that much can be learned by collaborating, demonstrating patience, and being deliberate. The “look me in the eye” comment, though, is personal. For ANY generation, that’s just good advice! Thanks for taking time to chime in!

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