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environment emphasizes fun over work, creature comforts and freebies (free drinks, free snacks, etc.) over structure and self-discipline.


Parents, teachers—even children’s television shows—repeatedly taught Millennials the importance of having self-esteem, to have a can-do attitude, to be confident in themselves. Time and again they were told, “You are special.” The intentions were good, but the effects were terrible: a generation that expects to be praised for the least bit of effort, yet falls apart at the sound of a raised voice telling young workers where they went wrong and how they can do better.

Millennials want more than a nine-to-five job—they want flexible work hours, the option to telecommute or have a compressed workweek. They cherish fun time, and expect the workplace to be challenging and creative. But above all, FUN!

Millennials are connected 24/7, from the time they wake up to when they go to bed. With email, text-messaging, cellphones and other means of instant communication, the line dividing work from social life has blurred and faded.

Millennials do labor diligently, but only as long as they know the ground rules and have enough time to “play hard.” Having grown up receiving rewards and praise for everything, they expect to move up the ladder of success—quickly!

“Although they are better educated, more techno-savvy, and quicker to adapt than those who have come before them, they refuse to blindly conform to traditional standards and time-honored institutions. Instead, they boldly ask, ‘Why?’” (Employing Generation Why by Eric Chester).

This is the same generation that craves interaction with their managers and happily receives feedback, which their parents and grade school teachers taught them to seek, especially if it comes with praise. In return, they expect their opinions and ideas to be heard and respected, despite lack of experience.

Millennials generally lack discretion—prudence—what was once called common sense. They know that once an image, sound bite or email is posted to the Web, it’s there forever. Yet the Internet has become a dumping ground for recording the most embarrassing, crude and shocking moments of people’s lives. Years later, when

“Strange Generation”


applying for a job or attempting to move to a higher position, young teachers, emergency workers and others have their hopes dashed.

Here is why: they may have caroused at a nightclub and “let loose,” a moment captured by a camera phone for the whole world to see—after drinking alcohol past the limit, they sang a hate-filled rant at a bar, recorded and posted to the Internet as an easily downloadable mp3—instead of thinking it through and understanding the impact of words, they typed a mean-spirited email that was picked up by the world of bloggers. Once online, it can never be deleted.

Also, Millennials were reared to be tolerant—“don’t judge.” But parents and mentors failed to teach the importance of exercising patience, discretion, prudence. They were not taught to value right from wrong, to understand the difference between one and the other.

Building a Bad Reputation

A new industry of consultants has emerged to teach companies how to interact with, train, motivate—and, in some cases, essentially babysit—a generation that does not take “no” for an answer. These consultants teach Millennials (and Gen-Xers, for that matter) how to cover up visible tattoos; how to conduct themselves as professionals in the office; how to exercise proper dining and business etiquette.

The U.S. is not unique in dealing with Millennials. In Australia, a 2007 survey of more than 315 small- and medium-sized businesses revealed that almost 70% reported dissatisfaction with the performance of Millennial employees, particularly in spelling and grammar, and that they did not understand what constituted appropriate corporate behavior (Australia’s ABC News).

The Dallas Morning News reported that an advertising executive stopped hiring newly college-graduated Millennials altogether, unless they held advanced degrees or had work-related experience. Though the ad exec called them creative and tech-savvy, he said that Millennials-at-large lacked the ability to be responsible, accountable and to deal with setbacks. “They wipe out on life as often as they wipe out on work itself. They get an apartment and a kitty, and they can’t cope. Work becomes an ancillary casualty” (ibid.).

A generational expert told the newspaper that Millennials have been “overparented, overindulged and overprotected. They haven’t experienced that much failure, frustration, pain. We were so obsessed with protecting and promoting their self-esteem that they crumble like

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