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Let's Give Millennials a Chance

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Getty
Getty

Recently I've seen a slew of harsh, critical articles about millennials and their:

1. Lack of responsibility
2. Lack of motivation
3. Lack of respect
4. Lack of ambition
5. Lack of work ethic
6. Lack of manners

There was this one on the Forbes website, and this one on The New York Times. There are hundreds more -- just google "millennial work ethic" and see what pops up.

It seems that many employers are disturbed by the difference in the way millennials approach their jobs in contrast to their older counterparts. These employers see a generation of entitled, narcissistic indulged young people who don't seem to grasp the concept that a job requires dedication, loyalty, long hours and low pay in order to advance to the next level, or even keep their jobs in the first place.

In the article on Forbes, author Jason Nazar (all of 34-years-old) says:

Call me a curmudgeon, but at 34, how I came up seems so different from what this millennial generation expects.

Really? Ten years can make that much of a difference?

Now, I may be a bit biased because, well, I'm the mother of two millennials. My daughter works extremely hard at her job for very little pay, knowing this is the cost of advancing her career, and does so with enthusiasm. My son has just completed an unpaid internship, for which he commuted an hour each way, three days a week. He heads back to school to complete his senior year in college shortly.

But enough about my kids.

Let's talk about the millennials who really screw things up and make huge, enormous mistakes. Do they do these dumb things because they're millennials or because they're idiots? Is it because they got trophies for every team they played on while growing up, or do they just have a lack of common sense and self-control? I know there are plenty of people my age who have those problems, but no one blames it on their being part of the Boomer generation -- they just assume that those people are jerks.

There's no doubt that millennials were raised in a "you can do it, you're the best!" environment. From the time they were old enough to understand the words "run as fast as you can," they've been competing, and along the way many of their parents grew to believe -- and make them believe -- that they were good enough to get a scholarship/play pro/conquer the world with their academic, athletic, or other-talent brilliance. After all of these promises and atta-boys, they were sent into the world with the idea that they could have anything they wanted if they just tried hard enough -- the metaphorical "most enthusiastic" trophy, if you will. And then they saw the truth -- the world is not their oyster, and their parents were wrong -- no one is waiting for them to show up with their shiny new diplomas and extra-curricular activities. This can be a shock, to be sure.

But let's all think back to the dark ages when us old(ish) folks were starting out in the business world. You worked hard, eager to prove your worth and get that raise, glad to have a decent-paying job with health insurance (mine cost $3.79 a week in 1984), a parking space and a week's paid vacation. This was our experience. But think harder, and surely you'll recall a few of your co-workers who slacked off, passed their work on to others, said stupid things, called in sick once too often, made long-distance (remember long-distance?) calls on the office phones... in other words, the jerks. The idiots. They had a lot more to learn about being adults, didn't they?

Maybe all the millennials need is time, guidance and, in some cases, a good talking-to. Maybe those who are criticizing the way millennials view things should consider taking some responsibility for creating these so-called monsters -- because chances are many of them have millennial children of their own.