Bridging the Manager/Millennial Disconnect

As part of our baseline assessments of every client, my team and I use Launchbox’s proprietary assessment tool, BRIDGEdex, to identify where the significant disconnects exist between millennials and managers—between employee expectations and what they are experiencing in the workplace.

We have done hundreds of these assessments with companies of all sizes nationwide, across all industries.

Despite the fact that the needs of those companies differed across industries, disciplines, and departments...

Despite the fact that sales culture is different from accounting, and practices within law firms or insurance companies are different from engineering or public relations firms...

Despite the fact that regional differences exist—San Diego is not the same as Des Moines, which is nothing like New York City . . .

Despite all of these differences, we found managers’ top disconnects and frustrations with their millennials were strikingly similar across all companies regardless of location, size, or industry.

Managers’ Top 9 Disconnects / Frustrations with Their Millennials

1. Lack of initiative and problem-solving
2. Sense of entitlement
3. Overly self-focused
4. Too emotional
5. Unrealistic advancement goals
6. Impatient
7. Inability to remain engaged and loyal
8. Poor work ethic
9. Not taking responsibility

Of course, these managerial disconnects look exactly like the reasons you’ve probably read about why non-millennials hate millennials. But that hate not only creates perceptions and clouds how non-millennial managers view, treat, and lead their millennial employees, but also reveals their biggest—often unknown or unseen—challenges and weaknesses when it comes to understanding millennials.

That's the other thing we found: While non-millennials surveyed think they are great at doing the things their millennials need, their millennials decidedly disagree.

Millennials’ Top 9 Disconnects / Frustrations with Their Managers

1. Unavailability / too busy
2. Lack of timely response
3. Lack of positive feedback
4. Lack of training / development
5. Lack of consistent check-ins
6. Lack of communication/ consistency
7. Lack of transparency
8. Ineffective business planning
9. Lack of trust

What does this mean? Simply put, if you think you are doing well at something and your audience thinks you are not, that disconnect is not only an organizational problem but also a personal problem that you need to solve.

If you as an individual can accept all that and own it, you will take the first step in changing your mindset and overcoming disconnects that reveal our biggest weaknesses and challenges in dealing with millennials—and in turn get them to change their mindset about you. That’s how today’s companies will bridge the gap between their non-millennial leaders’ skills and perceptions and millennials’ skills and needs in order to create an engaged, productive workplace that delivers results.

“Wait! We went through it and so should they!” Non-millennials snap when they hear me say this. “Why should I change my work and the way I work for them? I’m not supposed to change; they are.”

That’s ridiculous. You are already so fantastic at being a leader that they need to change? It’s not “us versus them” and “if you’re not with us you’re against us.” How is that working, “us”?

How do we guide millennials to be their best selves and find their own relevance while still doing the work we need them to do? How do we create alignment between millennials’ expectations and what they are experiencing in your workplace?

It starts by changing our perspectives—with recognizing our duty to understand ourselves first and then working from the inside out and resolve these disconnects from us to them to become the best leaders we can be.

Need help getting started? Let us help you stop chasing relevance and make it happen. For more on working from the inside out, check out Part One of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace TODAY.

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