Have you noticed that the work ethic is woefully absent in many people? Kids have learned that success is measured in likes, comments and emojis rather than discipline and hard work.
I caught a snippet of a Simon Sinek talk explaining why Millenials are perceived as lazy, unfocused, and go to work feeling entitled: Poor parenting.
Parents have pressured schools to increase kids’ grades and reward failures (you pass just by showing up), told kids they are perfect, and that they can do anything they envision without dropping the reality hammer of hard work. These well intended strategies mean young adults don’t know how to succeed at work.
Overconfidence and arrogance are thin veneers over a deep need to be liked coupled with insecurity about a lack of practical skills, both socially and academically. Fact is, Millennials do want to succeed, but don’t know how.
You, as leader, need these people to help you reach your goals. Micromanaging is not the answer (find out when to use it here) and you certainly don’t want to destroy your productivity by doing their work. Whether you wanted to raise kids or not, there are lessons to be learned from successful parenting.
Changing Your Mind
You worked hard to get to your position. It’s easy to feel acrimonious towards a younger lazy generation. But with the labour market getting ever tighter, you WILL be managing people with this history. Here’s how to do it.
1. Check the attitude
I’m sorry, but there really are dumb questions. Kids and employees do dumb things. If you roll your eyes at their questions and lackluster efforts, they will fail continually. Albert Bandura proved that positive expectations from leaders drive greater effort and greater results (check out the power of self-efficacy).
2. Refocus yourself
Refraining from giving off negative vibes is not enough. You are a leader and, like a parent, your job is to help them do their best. You are the enabler. Block time to develop people. Uncover their strengths and put them on the [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE] Workout Plan to stardom. They need skills.
3. Dial up the feedback. Way up.
No one improves without some type of feedback. If you want more of a behavior, recognize it. If you want to deter a behavior, help them self-reflect and analyze. Do this often, ‘in the moment’.
4. Give them 🎈 🎉 😍 🙌
We all know the importance of reward and recognition. Millenials don’t want trophies or mouse pads (neither does anyone else). Figure out what THEY like. Rewards work when you make it personal.
5. Appreciate them for who they are
Even when kids come home with bad report cards, we love them for who they are. Beyond the work, show an interest in your people. When was the last time you took each member of your team for a coffee? Trust requires a connection. Which is why you should also…
6. Dip a toe into their world
When they mention ten apps or artists you’ve never heard of, try ONE. Let them know what you think, even if you hated it. Tell them to show you why they love it. Be prepared to say “I don’t get it” (because you don’t know everything) and then watch for the smile. Trying earns points.
7. Admit your mistakes
Being the leader, you carry positional power which will intimidate. Let your team know you’re not perfect. Share a failure, then engage the team in a conversation about what was learned.
8. Connect them with the effect of their work
Taking kids to a shelter or food bank is good for their development. Do your employees know why their work is important? Take your team on a field trip to see the impact of what they do. Have them talk to a customer, whether internal or external.
We don’t become leaders to parent people; We can’t replace family. But we can apply the same parenting skills that work both at home, in the office and on the shop floor. Good parenting is about helping children achieve success. So is leadership.
Do you have other parenting tips that drive success? Drop me a line – I’d love to hear what you are doing!