I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable reading, hearing people talk about, or even referencing the millennial generation myself with some sweeping statement that collapses this entire generation into one narrow viewpoint. The icky feeling, I assumed, stemmed from the fact that I, myself, am a millennial. But in our dialogue about how to attract and engage top talent, we as executives often reference the “emerging workforce” and use some millennial stereotype. It wasn’t until recently, though, when reading The Deloitte Millennial Survey results that I stopped using the term Millennial personally.
Midway through reading the printed copy of the report, highlighter in hand (neither of which are very millennial of me), I stopped and noticed something I hadn’t before. Any societal or minority group’s descriptor could substitute the word “millennial," and the report could read perfectly. It was almost mad-libs like (if you’re from gen z, you likely won’t get the reference). I began to read the study now as though it was a study about women, the GLTB community, or Asian-Canadians/Americans for example. It wasn't until then (after my self-amusement of finding myself quite witty) that I realized we as leaders have allowed ourselves to compartmentalize an entire generation out of our human need to simplify things.
We know from neuroscience and our prewired nature for survival that our brains are always looking for shortcuts to preserve energy and frame up decisions for processing information quickly. This is not a knock on Deloitte nor any other article or blog post – but rather a call to us as leaders and professionals to stop the laziness and recognize the costs of our blanket statements.
The one thing great leaders need to know about attracting, engaging and developing the millennial generation: treat us like a human with individual needs.
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