Millennials are Misunderstood

Throughout my career, I have worked with many people from all walks of life, cultures, and different generations. While working with the next up and coming generation, I had to take a hard look at myself, to avoid they comment of “what is wrong with the generation” or “I was never like that”. Here’s the thing that I found and that I believe, every generation has had its own set of generational rules to follow, as well as, growth in today’s society.

For the longest time I looked at myself as a Gen X’er. I was born in 1980 (does this make me a gen x’er, millennial, Xennials who knows) and regardless of what others say, the truth is “we” (the gen x’er) were labeled, lazy, whiney, too into technology, lived with parents, etc…all the same things that fell over into what our generation now labels the millennial.

Generation Name
Age Today*
Oldest Age
The Lost Generation
The Generation of 1914
The Interbellum Generation
The Greatest Generation
The Silent Generation
Baby Boomer Generation
Generation X (Baby Bust)
Generation Y, Gen Next
iGen / Gen Z
Gen Alpha

If you look at any recent articles about millennials you will see that they too are labeled, lazy, whiney, lived with parents, etc…but also entitled, rude, looking for free handouts, lack motivation, selfish, technology destroyed their socialization abilities, and they are poor with their finances. 

So why do I think that this generation is notably the most misunderstood group? There are many reasons to this, but here are just a few: 
  • Creative Thinkers: They come out of the box with new and fresh ideas that can help in overcoming the lack of technology and support from older generations. (however at times are held back from the older generation of saying “we have tried that”) 
    • I would question have you tried it with today’s technology? 
  • Motivated by Relationships: Along with tech of communication devices they are social fiends, and want to be nothing than accepted for who they are. (We cannot just put them in a cubical and think that will be great producers)
  • Visionaries: They thrive on the bigger picture and what the end results will look like. They should be allowed to dream
Now, I also understand that they look for immediate self gratification, and results, but patience’s would go a long way if they are mentored through the process. 

Noted in some recent articles these few items listed have been proven through study, while Forbes and Fortune called them “the generation of the startup” and the “True Entrepreneur Generation” Fortune even noted how millennials have launched twice as many businesses as boomers, and American Express claimed millennials may be the most entrepreneurial generation ever…But, I would have to argue against. They may have lunched many new small business start-ups, however failed at maintaining them. 

They are misunderstood because today’s older generations of the Gen X'er, baby boomers and traditionalist that are still in today’s workforce are expecting millennials to conform to the old way of conducting business. Unfortunately, this process may no longer be feasible. Millennials do not have the same mindset, just take a look at how millennials were raised allowing us to further understand why they are the way they are.

The new worker coming into with today’s workforce are a product of parents from the 60s and 70s. Once upon a time, they too, were protesting over, wars, civil rights, and other things they felt made a great impact on our society, and now are raising their own children that are protesting for civil rights communities and other areas that may make a great impact on today’s society. So what don’t they understand? 

A common theme back then was parents would go to church and help in the development of their children by establishing beliefs, values, and morals. However, the majority today, were raised outside of what a standard home-life set up looks like. Many now do not have the “family dream” of married parents, to where one would be home, typically the mother, and the father would be the one going out to work and coming home with the financial support…Not today…Many today are, a product of broken homes or being raised by grandparents due to their other parents having to focus elsewhere, intentionally or unintentionally. This all comes into play when a millennial is now inserting themselves into a situation to there is a required to be self-disciplined. 

So why do you think that this generation is notably the most misunderstood group…There are many different reasons, but it could be because people don’t know when they started or stopped since they are grouped even today with younger less mature generations, and there is no turning back on this. Maybe if individuals STOPPED grouping the generations together since, they may be able to put a finger on who is who…they are not all the same or created equal. I stated earlier the common statement, what is wrong with millennial’s today? Or They are what is wrong with the work environment...I would urge one to make sure to look in the mirror prior to making this statement…be the solution, not the cause. 

How old are millennials? there is no exact consensus of the years the actual generations begin and end, but millennials were born between 1980 through 1998. Making the youngest on average around age 20, and the oldest around age 38, that’s right!! the oldest is around 38, fully integrated into a career and raising families.

One last thing…One of the greatest concerns that we have when deciphering the generation gap is, who is a millennial, and what generation time line do they belong to. What we need to do is get away from labeling every single new birth of a child and mark them, millennial, while realizing we are now producing and leading a new generation of leaders.