Do these words remind you of anyone? Are they characteristics of a person you can think of? How about a “type of person,” or a group of people––a generation perhaps?
I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Millennials, according to the mainstream, are all the same. Like this. And these are just a handful of the (derogatory) descriptions going around about Millennials. Well, you know what? It’s crap. And we really need to change the story now.
The characteristics we’ve come to blindly recognise Millennials by are actually hurting our companies more than you think. Yes, it matters what your perception of Millennials are. Because our companies are mostly made up of, and almost mostly lead by, yep, you guessed it, Millennials.
And we are getting it so wrong. According to mainstream media sources, and (as a result) a lot of company leaders, the above are Millennial characteristics––the exact Millennial characteristics that are driving our approach to leadership. See the problem now?
Could you just imagine the type of strategies that would be born around leading and coaching these Millennial characteristics? Savage, probably.
I recently read an article in an anthropology magazine titled, “You can’t characterize human nature if studies overlook 85 percent of people on Earth.” The author, Daniel Hruschka, Associate Director of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, spoke on why a lot of our past scientific research into human behaviour is not a great marker for basing ideas. Studies that shaped (and still shape) our ideas and structures––many business related–– and develop biases, are actually not the studies we should taking notice of.
The article referenced a scientific paper from 2010 titled, “Most People Are Not Weird”, written by Joseph Henrich, Steven J. Heine and Ara Norenzayan. This paper argued that if behavioural scientists want accurate human psychology to reference, they must stop doing studies on Westerners.
In Hruschka’s article he talked about how discoveries on human behaviour over the years that have influenced education, business and personal biases aren’t an accurate way to measure human behaviour. Because Hruschka says they’ve been studies made by surveying a very narrow slice of humanity. According to the article, the subjects for most behavioural scientific research were,
“College students, middle-class respondents living near universities and highly educated residents of wealthy, industrialised and democratic nations”.
Hrushka points out that for psychologists to then assume these subjects represent the norm worldwide is scientifically questionable and can have consequences, according to the anthropologist that wrote the article.
Which raises a very interesting point and reminds me of why I began my research into Millennials in the first place. Just like Hruschka, I was a sceptic on the studies I was reading about Millennials in the workplace.
When I was developing strategies for my clients on how to communicate and lead Millennials in the workplace I was conflicted by the results. The Millennial characteristics I was being told of, and the studies that were forming these biases were outdated and they were from far away. I could see a narrow slice being depicted that didn’t reflect the Millennials I knew and worked with. And most of the discussion I was finding was biased by the same narrative. I thought to myself, “This just can’t be true.”
So, I did my own very unique and specific study.
And what did I study exactly? The people I was trying to find out about, Working Millennials in Australia.
And what did I find? That the characteristics and behaviours of the Millennials I surveyed, were very different to the Millennial characteristics that had influenced the narrative I was faced with prior to my study.
I flipped. First I felt a little guilty for accepting these Millennial characteristics for so long. Next I decided there need to be a new narrative based on my findings. Though “weird” in comparison to the behavioural studies discussed in the mainstream, my findings were correct, and current, and very helpful in structuring coaching and leadership for the Millennial characteristics I knew were accurate.
My Australian Millennials In The Workplace study helped shape my entire way of thinking and my business model. The findings gave me structure and hope for our future businesses. And the findings also gave me confidence because I knew they were coming from the very subject I am trying to help. Australian Millennials In The Workplace.
In short, my study reframed my view of the real Millennial generation. Based on this I’ve developed a new list of (more accurate) Millennial characteristic which looks like this:
Challengers of the status quo.
Do these characteristics remind you of people you know? I personally know many Millennial leaders who display these characteristics, and they are changing the way we do business and disrupting industries. If you’d like to read more and discover where I have uncovered all these Millennial characteristics from then please get in touch or even better download my FREE EBook today….