The great debate right now is whether the older and younger generations can get along in business. Millennials have a reputation for being impatient. Baby Boomers have a reputation for just not getting it. Each generation judges the other, and unfortunately, the stereotypes are not helping them close the gap.
The one thing no one can dispute is that the younger generations are going to be next up. Life goes on, and today’s workers are going to be tomorrow’s leaders. The older generations should recognize that Millennials and Gen Z are no slouches, and in fact have an innate understanding of fundamental business principles. Let’s look at some of these.
1. You own your work
If you look at startups, companies and projects led by Millennials, you’ll find a lot of independence. It’s as if the younger generations have watched the older generations try to micromanage everything, and learned that micromanagement slows things down.
The perfect example of this is the older manager who hires a young kid to do a specific type of work, tells the kid it’s his or her responsibility, and then micromanages the project. The kid then gets frustrated because he or she doesn’t feel ownership, and the older person gets frustrated because he or she feels like the kid is rebelling or not listening just for the sake of it.
Millennial entrepreneurship is very different. You see a lot of independent people who are willing to say, “We’re in this together, but you’re going to run it however you see fit because that’s what you do.” And it’s tremendously effective.
2. You learn through doing
Another judgment of younger generations is that they have a false sense of confidence, or don’t have the patience to do things “the right way.”
However, younger generations inherently understand that you can’t come up with all the answers just by sitting there thinking about it. You have to get moving. You have to fall and get up again. You have to learn by doing—and then keep going.
To older generations, this is risky behavior. To younger generations, it’s learning through action. They recognize that failure is simply part of the process.
3. Give more than you take
Finally, if you look at young people today, you will find an insatiable appetite for collaboration.
“You have a YouTube show? So do I! Let’s create content together.”
“You’re a blogger? I’m a speaker. Let’s collaborate on a story!”
“You’re in my city? Let’s meet up for coffee!”
This shift in thinking is largely the result of social media. Younger generations see how easily and effectively they can connect with people they otherwise would never have the opportunity to know, and they take full advantage. But to an older person, outreach through Twitter seems foreign. “Why would anyone do that? Do people seriously respond? How do I know that person is worth my time?”
Younger generations are all about giving—sometimes to a fault. This is because they know that giving is the fastest route to growth. Offer everything you know. Offer to connect anyone with anyone. Offer to collaborate, offer to meet up, offer many times over. Giving should be a primarily business principle for all generations in this connected age.
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