You can't open your laptop these days without learning something new about millennials. If we are to believe what we read about this generational tsunami, they are either lazy misfits or misunderstood geniuses. The truth is probably somewhere in between and may be irrelevant.
To successfully integrate millennials into the workforce, we need to go beyond figuring out the "who" and focus on the "how."
How do you encourage, include and maximize the opportunity millennials bring to your workplace and what does the red carpet have to do with it?
Prior to becoming a professional coach, I worked as a television talent executive and producer. As a newbie in the talent department, I spent many hours on the "red carpet" watching Hollywood royalty float by wearing high heels and even higher hopes.
My job was to identify the actors who were booked as presenters on the show and gently and calmly persuade them to move along quickly to the green room. Armed with a clipboard and walkie-talkie, I smiled sweetly as I explained to celebrities; live TV waits for no one - and yes, that means you.
And as excited as I was to be surrounded by the glamour of Hollywood, something rubbed me the wrong way - the sense that some of these artists truly believed they deserved "special treatment," simply because of their fame and box office numbers. While most of the talent I dealt with were kind and respectful, this small group of self-absorbed divas surrounded by well-paid sycophants, began to cloud my perspective. And that perspective began to inform my experience.
This is much like our cultural perspective about millennials which at times becomes a monolithic belief system that informs our experience and the ways in which we interact in the workplace with an entire generation of people.
I was only 2 years into an 18 year career when I found myself cringing at the thought of interacting with "talent." Every special request made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I was stressed out, anxious and complained, A LOT.
Much like my manager and executive clients who feel stuck in their interactions with millennials - right before a big shift in perspective, life can get pretty uncomfortable.
I knew I had to change my attitude or quit and I didn't want to quit. It had been my dream to work in television.
I started focusing on the good interactions I was having with artists and their representatives. I reminded myself that diva behavior exists in all industries and at least in television you find a craft service table full of donuts and bagels when you walk through the door each morning.
I'm here to tell you that if you are managing millennials you don't have to quit either. You may get some special requests from divas. Take them in stride. Mostly you will find a red carpet full of talented people who want to show you what they can do for you.
5 Red Carpet Secrets to Changing Your Attitude toward Millennials:
Make the Green Room Non-Exclusive: Millennial employees want to feel connected to you and to each other. Create opportunities for them to interact with everyone in the company.
Allow the Paparazzi In: We all want to be acknowledged for our contribution. The only difference between Gen-Y and the rest of us, is that they ask for it. Rather than deny them the opportunity to shine, make it a policy that everyone (including you) gets acknowledged on a regular basis, for good work.
Give Out All-Access Badges: Be open to employees stopping by your office to share ideas and to ask questions. Letting go of old fashioned ideas of hierarchy will speed the success and progress of your organization.
Put Your High Heels on Last: You will need to play the seniority card every now and then which is perfectly reasonable. But don't feel you have to parade around the office in uncomfortable shoes all day. There's a limit to how long you can last in those stillettos without pain and blistering.
Invite a Millennial to Co-Host the Show: Your employees want to show you that they can lead - so let them. If he or she isn't doing well, you can always change things up during the commercial break.
The trick to changing your attitude about millennials is to expand your thinking.
You don't have to give up what you believe in or your basic understanding of good business. Just be willing to benefit from the wisdom of your team members.