One of the most popular things to do in today’s society is to “go off” on Millennials, labeling them as entitled, lazy and highly unproductive.
While that may be true about a certain sector of millennials – I would argue there are examples of that exact behavior in every generation that has ever existed.
I will agree millennials are different; however, different doesn’t equal destructive (they are not going to be the generation that destroys the world!)
The millennials are here to stay – they are not going anywhere, and…as leaders we can either continue to gripe and complain about how “different” they are – OR – we can become students of their generation, learn how to lead them and set them up for maximum success rather than simply tearing them down all of the time.
In working with some amazing millennials over the past several years – here are some insights I gained that I believe will help you as you lead them.
#1 – Millennials Are The Greatest Cause Driven Generation That Has Ever Lived.
An overwhelming majority of millennials do not care about how much money they make or whether or not the climb the corporate ladder—they just want to be a part of something that is actually making a difference in the world.
Which is why I have argued for years that if the church can learn how to connect the millennials heart to the heart of Jesus – and show them why the church has more potential than any organization in the world to bring about the change the world so desperately needs – that the millennials could actually lead the greatest awakening the world has ever seen.
Companies and corporations have spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars investing in job descriptions and training programs that teach people WHAT they need to be doing – but, the heart of a millennial is actually asking “WHY” are we doing this?
So, if a millennial is not performing up to par for your company – it might not be because they are lazy or entitled…but because you have not taken the time to convince them that the cause your church or company is committed to is worth them devoting their life to!
#2 – Millennials Are Connected To Their Phones – Whether We Like It Or Not!
If I hear one more person complaining about…
…how millennials are too connected to their phones
…how this connection is not good for them
…and because of this connection relationship will be destroyed…
…I am going to SCREAM!
Because – it is essentially the same thing people said about my generation in regards to us watching television (instead of playing outside) – and then, GOD FORBID, we actually began playing Atari, Nintendo and Playstation!!!
Despite what the Baby Boomers said about us – I think we turned out OK…even though Pac Man and Mario Brothers were, in many cases, our best friends!
The previous generation always tends to criticize what they do not understand in the up and coming generation.
Which brings me back to millennials and their phones…
Often times we hear older speakers complain about how ten millennials will sit around a table with each other and send each other pictures and text messages rather than actually talking to each other…
…they will say this behavior is destroying connection and community among this age group.
However, what the older generation seems to be failing to understand is texting and chatting through social media among millennials IS connection; in fact, I would argue they are WAY more connected (and aware) of things going on in the lives of the people they care about than my generation ever was.
If the older generation does not learn how to speak “social media” then we are simply going to not be able to communicate with the next generation…and, as that happens we will become bitter and angry at them and condemn them with criticism rather than studying them, learning from them and trying to understand how they communicate so we can actually speak their language.
#3 – Millennials Are Fueled By Encouragement.
This sort of ties into #1…but it’s a tad different.
We have all made fun of the fact that the millennials are the first generation that gives out “participation trophies” and “medals for last place.”
And…while I am NOT a proponent of doing those things, I think we can throw the baby out with the bathwater if we’re not careful…
…I believe the genesis behind this idea was to provide encouragement in a world that can be overwhelmingly discouraging.
Here is where the distinction is made…
With my generation (as well as previous ones) the best way to show encouragement was most often some sort of pay raise or cash bonus.
However, millennials are more often motivated by us telling them “good job,” and…WHY it was a good job way more than us simply scribbling them a check.
Let me be clear – I am not a proponent of any type of false encouragement; however, when we take the time to communicate to them we believe what they did actually mattered—and WHY it mattered, it earns us way more equity and loyalty with them than putting them in a corner office and upgrading their business cards to the ones with raised lettering!
If you are a millennial reading this (most likely on your phone) I would simply ask you to please not allow people in my generation to discourage you! You are uniquely wired – and I believe to the core of my being that Jesus is going to use you as the architects of a worldwide revival that is going to bring about the change this world so desperately needs.
And if you are not a part of the millennials generation then I would implore you to encourage them, believe in them and support them.
Because…one day they are going to be in charge of everything (as well as pick out the rest homes we are going to be in!)