"They're just young, lazy, and entitled! They don't even want to work."
Yowza! Harsh and cringe-worthy, isn't it?
Unfortunately, that's how some restaurant owners and managers have not so lovingly
described their Millennial workforce to me. And many take it a step further and erroneously lay the blame solely at the feet of this generation as the reason why their restaurant isn't thriving.
Why Millennials Aren't the Problem
But guess what? Millennials aren't the problem. It's actually you. Or more specifically, how
you're managing them and probably the rest of your team too.
What we seem to forget is that every single generation has had their fair share of pie in the sky idealistic dreamers or disinterested, cocky, and spoiled slackers…and any other frustrating combination. It's not the first go round for these personality characteristics. And from my own experiences as a business owner, let me just say this: I work with a diverse and dynamic team of people — many of whom are Millennials — and they are some of the hardest working, dedicated people I know!
And yet, we all — as employers, HR managers, and just fellow human beings — can still cling to these stereotypical groupings and mindlessly fall into the blame game if we're not careful. Then these "generational differences" can dictate our people skills, becoming the central focus of our energy and leading to negativity-laden, stressful interactions with others.
All this because someone was born during a certain timeframe. Talk about a counterproductive leadership style.
So, no matter the generation — young, old, or somewhere in-between — here are three tips to help you successfully manage your people, every last one of them.
Tip #1 — Encourage work-life balance.
The future can be uncertain…it is uncertain. Every generation has had earth-shattering events occur that reminded them of this inevitability and rocked them to their cores. The assassination of JFK, Vietnam, September 11th, the Great Recession, the current looming uncertainty regarding healthcare coverage — you get the idea.
Add in personal events, like an extended illness, a miscarriage, the death of close friend or pet, and your team is likely stretched to their mental, emotional, and financial limits. Plus, today's employees can't simply "leave work behind" as easily anymore. The traditional 9 to 5 has extended into 24/7 — 365 thanks to smartphones bringing email, text messages, and social media along for the ride.
Employees, regardless of age, can have truly brilliant ideas. But these ideas don't become reality and instead wither and die on the vine if employees don't ever have a break from work or an opportunity to let loose. So as an employer, be flexible when and where you can and aim for less micromanaging and more autonomy and trust. And make sure you encourage — heck, even demand — that your team finds a healthy work-life balance so they can find happiness at work and at home.