As per our tradition, our extended family gathered at my parent’s house for Easter Sunday dinner. And as usual, the scene in the living room after the meal was disgusting. We all lounged and draped over the closest piece of soft furniture we could find. Some of the kids didn’t make it that far. They sprawled out on the carpet.
Had there been lions prowling around, we would have all been their Easter dinner. They could have picked apart our entire herd—not just the slow, weak grandparents—because all of us were in that awesome state of being full, lethargic, and drowsy with nothing to do. Except ponder what delicacies my mother whipped up for dessert.
My 83 year-old dad interrupted our utopia by asking, “When are we going to eat?” Earlier we stuck him in a corner telling Navy stories while we set the table and filled the glasses. Someone forgot to bring him back to the table. I think it was Jack. Granbuddy (my dad) still asks Jack every time he visits, “Are you still going to Auburn?” Jack is a good kid with a long memory.
The room was full of Millennial grandkids and their parents and grandparents from older generations. An environment ripe for storytelling.
My sister led us off by reminiscing how we once packed 23 kids—that’s right, 23—into my mom’s station wagon in the 1970’s.
There were kids facing frontwards, backwards, on top of each other, in my mom’s lap, and one hanging onto the antennae on the hood. I think we even wedged a couple into the side wood panels.
The Millennials gasped in horror. “You mean everyone wasn’t buckled in their own seat watching their own DVD screen?” the oldest asked.
I chimed in, “The best sleep I ever got as a kid was in the warm sun in the back rear window of our 1963 Impala.”
The young mouths flew open further.
Christy continued with this gem, “When I was born, my dad and the doctor shared a cigarette … in the hospital.”
My brother-in-law Chris chuckled, “I had an uncle that smoked while he was on oxygen.”
“Wait a sec, wait a sec,” I primed the crowd. “I got one. When I was a child I actually played outside!”
The Millennials shook their heads and booed.
My mom, not wanting to be left out, added, “I ate dirt once.” (No, it is not the early stages of dementia, my mother often adds color to the conversation.) On cue, the grandkids took out their personal travel size bottle of Germ-X and offered it to their matriarch.
“Speaking of dirt and germs, do y’all remember Merthiolate?” I asked. The parents shuddered at the memory of the red dye antibiotic that would obliterate germs and epithelial cells in the process. “It hurt so bad! I could never apply it to myself because my hand would shake and that little plastic dropper would fling red liquid all over the place.”
“I’m just glad the FDA banned it in the 1990’s over poison concerns.”
The Millennials were now Snapchatting this story in disbelief. One started a Go Fund Me site to set up a grandchild trust fund because, obviously, our days were numbered.
Our food had settled enough that my mom brought out skillet-baked apple pie. One of the grandkids shook her head and asked me, “Uncle Kerry, do you know how many carbs are in that?”
I smiled and said, “Yep. But the Tab I’m going to wash it down with will balance it all out.”
“What’s a Tab?” she asked.
That’s when we all realized how wide the gap is between generations. Sure, we have seen it all along, but now that the grandkids are entering the workforce, we see it playing out in all aspects of our lives.
If you want to better manage a Millennial, keep these five F’s in mind.
1.) Feedback – Millennials want instant, on the spot, relevant feedback on their performance. In five years, as they climb to management, the annual employee review will be gone. Go ahead and start providing feedback faster and on a regular basis.
2.) Flexibility – Millennials truly believe that technology has enabled them with the ability to work from anywhere, anytime, and any manner. 74% of them prefer a flexible work schedule. 71% of them have not paid a lick of attention to social media policies for the work place. Get over it. 69% of Millennials believe regular work place hours are unnecessary.
3.) Function – the point of work is not necessarily to become rich for most Millennials. The overwhelming majority would rather work for $40,000 at a job they love than a $100,000 job that is boring. What are you doing to engage them?
4.) Freedom – Millennials, as do other generations in the workforce, like the freedom to figure out how to do their jobs. They just like it more. Their performance may not be conventional, but they can get it done. Be slow to judge the method, but quick to evaluate the results.
5.) Fellowship – OK, so I couldn’t think of an F word for collaborative, but you get the point. Millennials want to build consensus, to work together. In fact, 88% of them would like to work collaboratively rather than competitively. They value being connected to the communities they represent.
Performing these 5 F’s of Millennial Management will produce loyal, productive younger employees, and isn’t that the role of all of us old codgers in management?