It May be Time to Listen to Millennials

Written by Maddie Grant on April 19, 2016

I saw a story in the Wall Street Journal about Millennials in the banking industry. Short version: the Millennials don’t seem to be agreeing with the banking industry’s suggestions that they keep their heads down, focus on their work, and learn how to pay their dues, so they’re moving to other jobs. This apparently “confounds” the banking industry.

Seriously? This is a surprise to you folks in the banking industry? It shouldn’t be, because the Millennials have been saying for a while now that they don’t like those things, but I guess we’re not listening.

And since this is the point in our monthly series of posts when I normally do an interview, I thought it would make sense to hear from some Millennials. But it turns out I don’t need to interview someone, because Jamie and I already talked to many Millennials online when we were researching our book. We noticed then that the Millennials seem to be scratching their heads when it comes to the way we lead and manage in our organizations. The way we do things just doesn’t make sense to them.

Like this:

“I feel like we are always a year or two behind [on technology]—and it’s always a clunky ride to get where we want to go. I don’t know if our company is nervous about investing in a program, but something needs to change soon.”

“Everyone here is so worried about change. When you bring up a new idea, it is usually shot down without any research or discussion.”

“Central decisions are not internally transparent; for example, the vision of our leaders is not necessarily communicated well or understood in terms of how everyday business is affected.”

“Millennials value and desire a workplace where they have the ability and autonomy to propose and run with new ideas and also have coaching and more senior expertise along the way. Those are the organizations that will attract and retain Millennials.”

“We work in silos and struggle to understand how our business is keeping up. I can’t see what we’re doing to keep up. Every day, it feels like we are falling more and more behind.”
Remember, this is not about catering to the Millennials. To some extent EVERY younger generation hits the scene and scratches their heads a little.

But the Millennials grew up during a time period that is building up to a big transition.

They are shining a light on what the future of work is going to look like. So it’s important to pay attention to what they’re saying about your workplace, to really listen to what they are saying, and to start running some experiments to test out some different ways of working.

These kinds of comments run in the hundreds in our research.