"I Hate Millennials!" If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I would be a rich man. I don’t hate millennials, I love them! I raised three of them and joyfully work with many more. They are bright, curious, efficient and amazing people. That being said, there are some differences you have to be aware of to unlock the collaborative potential of millennials with others in the workforce to take your company and your career to another level.

To start with, stop using the M word like other four letter words. Second, understand what this generation is and what they want. Third, realize the potential of unlocking that energy within all of our companies to make 2 plus 2 equal 5. Why should I do this? Well, the millennial generation and those behind it are fast becoming the majority of your employees and customers. And guess what, baby boomers are getting older!! More importantly, it is the right thing to do to grow your promotional products business!

So what do I need to understand about millennials?

  • Millennials are born between 1982 and 2004 - true

  • They are tough to manage - false, just different at first

  • They are entitled - maybe, but we made them that way!

  • They are lazy - false, dead wrong

  • They ask a lot of questions - true, because they care!

  • All they want are free food and bean bag chairs - maybe, they want culture and interaction

How did they get that way?

Understanding generations
  • Parenting - We told them they were special, could have anything they want and handed out participation medals to them.

  • Technology - They have filters like Facebook and apps that expose them to only what they want. That’s not the way we were raised.

  • Being raised with technology is addictive. More and more studies show this. We all need to move away from this and live in the moment.

  • They are a product of their environment, the one the baby boomers made for them.

What do they want?

  • First and foremost they want to be connected!

  • Job satisfaction and great relationships. This involves teaching and mentoring to your culture and business environment.

  • Training and feedback. Lots of feedback. Remember, they are quick learners.

  • They want to make an impact.

  • They want to be inspired by good, make that GREAT leaders.

  • They want to be part of a team and accomplish things together.

  • They want a strong work environment and culture.

  • They want to be heard. They crave interaction.

Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so bad. Seems like they want to be part of something and really build strong relationships through conversation and team work.

What do they bring to the work world?

  • Amazing skills

  • Team attitude

  • Out of the box thinking

  • Energy, enthusiasm

  • Big hearts-they care

  • Tolerance

In short, they bring a lot to the table. It’s worth the time and investment to welcome this generation into the promotional products industry.

What do I need to do in my company to build a culture that supports everyone and works collaboratively?

  • You must change your thinking about people you work with.

  • Start by looking at your business with a new set of eyes. Would your kid like to work there? Would you?

  • Give them your time and knowledge.

  • Show your vulnerability as a person and as a company.

  • Mentor, train and foster a caring, collaborative environment.

  • Become the GREAT leader in a place where interaction and debate is the norm and not the exception.

  • Make the changes you need and the commitments you can’t afford not to.

  • Live and lead in the moment.

Age is just a number. There are old people who think young and young people who think old. Think young, re-invent yourself and your promotional products company and put everything into it. Enjoy the journey of inspiring others, learning from each other and having fun! I love millennials!