Do you say what needs to be said? You should.

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When Millennials were first entering the workforce, they took a lot of flak from Old School managers. There were two main complaints: newbies had a sense of entitlement about what they got and when, and they were incredibly sensitive to criticism. Overly derogatory terms like Trophy Generation and Snowflakes became part of the vernacular.

These beliefs were causing multiple problems for managers, especially extreme difficulty in having direct conversations about job performance or expectations. Team members didn’t want to hear it, took things too personally and it had the opposite effect of demotivating them.

Flash forward twenty years. Millennials now occupy middle and senior management and have the exact same concerns. Part of this is simply aging. Every generation that comes along thinks the next doesn’t measure up, the “walking to school in the snow” phenomenon…”they have it so much easier, it took me years to get where I am, you should’ve seen my boss,” blah blah. Same old, same old.

But something more significant has happened in the Age of Covid. The Great Resignation made it harder for most businesses to find workers, and it also affected attitudes. A post-Covid study was done asking why people quit their jobs. The top two were old standbys Compensation and Advancement (or lack thereof), but a new one emerged not seen before: feeling Disrespected.

This likely has to do with being out of practice. It was never easy to take constructive feedback…even the most thick-skinned alpha types immediately get defensive. But if you worked around people all the time, you had no choice but to bring up significant issues and we all got used to it to some degree. Remote work obliterated those opportunities. Why get into it with a colleague or direct report you rarely see?

Successful businesses run on open and honest communication. Even though most of us are back to regular office attendance, new habits of avoidance and overreaction are hard to shake, undermining relationships and effective collaboration. The solution sounds simple: just do it, and the more you do, the easier it gets.

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