I came across a video last year and the video was an interview between Tom Belyeu and Simon Sinek. It was at this point I changed my way of looking at the world. And now I want to share this with you! In this article, I will be explaining my interpretation of what Simon said and how this change the way I work and think.
The Millennials Question
A millennial is someone who was born approximately 1984 and after, these individuals are typically difficult to manage and display traits of being entitled and narcissistic. This age group is also linked with being lazy and unfocused, a trend that I found not only within myself but within other around me. It was only when working around a larger amount of people in a similar age group to myself, that I truly understood the extent of this stereotypical persona that others appeared to have.
Before I explain more let’s look closer at why Millennials are the way they are…
Simon Sinek has an explanation for this also, he breaks this down into 4 simple parts, Parenting, Technology, Impatience, and environment.
From failed parenting strategies, Millennials have been brought up with a hardcoded structure of fulfilment. This becomes apparent when you have seen parents saying things like “your special”, “you can have anything you want”. This comes from the parents own childhood and how they felt they couldn’t have anything they wanted.
Another clear example of this is the way schooling and sports work in the younger years. When a millennial takes part in a sports day for instance, every child no matter if they win or lose gets a reward, “well done for taking part, here is a medal”. This causes children to be brought up with never having a negative consequence when they fail. These types of rewards devalue the impact for both the winner and loser, the winner doesn’t feel rewarded enough for doing so well, and the loser feels embarrassed because they didn’t deserve a reward.
When they inevitably grew up and become of age to work, they have a shock. Working environments do not praise them for failing, they are not told they are special and they cannot have anything they want because they have asked for it.
Millennials have been brought up in an era where mobile phones, tablets, and the internet is commonplace in the household and the working environment. Social media is a main contributing factor in millennial behaviour. They live this simulated life online where they are able to place filters on their speech, filters on their images and show the world that they are happy, whereas this is not the case. The increase of depression within this age group is greatly increased due to the impact of what is seen around them on these platforms, and the way they show others how great their life is.
Why do we use social media then?…
There is a direct correlation between using social media and mobile phones with the chemical dopamine, this chemical is the body’s chemical for happiness. When using social media you gain this increase of dopamine because of an engagement online. Dopamine is highly addictive, similar to drinking, smoking and taking drugs.
Like most addictions, they are found in the teenage years where the dependency of parents transforms to the dependency of friends. Dealing with stress during this stage can be difficult, many tend to focus on a method of coping. This can be to talk with peers and work out a solution, the best way, or to turn to something to numb it. This numbing causes the addiction, whether that addiction is to drugs, food, or social media, it’s all the same, an addiction. Those that have this addiction will always turn to it when stress comes knocking again, using the addiction as a numbing against the stress.
The internet has also increased the impatience within this age group, a sense of instance gratification. The immediate resolve of a problem, buying online within seconds, watching TV shows in a row without waiting, dating and loads more.
The workplace and employers are not concerned about the employees are and more concerned with the growth of the company. The stats and figures, not the welfare of every single employee and how they feel. Millennials do not appreciate the wage, they need the gratification and job fulfilment from the employers and they are simply not getting it.
Now, whose fault is that?
Well there is no one person to blame for any of this, but upbringing has caused the majority of this, but the employer can decrease the effect of this on the millennial, which is all down to good leadership!
The idea that we go to work to have this sense of fulfilment and the only way to ensure you felt fulfilled was to be promoted or told “well done” after every single thing you done, really started to sink in as the wrong way of looking at life. A typical explanation given by a millennial was that they wanted to make an impact within a company, and it’s because of how most companies work why this causes serious implications in staff retention within Millennials.
A good example used by Simon Sinek is that if you went to the gym every day for a year, you wouldn’t notice the difference after the first couple of days, weeks or even months. But after that year you can look back on what you have accomplished along the way and see the change within yourself. Within a company, this is the same but many believe that without this reward system of praise along the way, how can you truly feel fulfilled within your role. The way many Millennials are hardcoded is that you cannot! But this is where the change in me helped me to truly appreciate going to work!
Before going to work was to become fulfilled and praised for the work I’ve done and what I have achieved. But now I realise that your reward is not praise but the exchange of money. Each month we receive a massive thank you for the work you have completed, presented in the form of cash, the thing we all must have to live.
Working in a team
Working in a team is a great way to feel fulfilled but within many companies! Everyone mentions how well they work in a team, but… There is a clear different, Simon Sinek uses a story about the US Marines which really hit the nail on the head.
When in the military you don’t see each of your colleagues as members of the team or as friends but as brothers and sisters. It’s this sense of family which drives them together to complete their main focus. It’s this sense of family which ensures that they will die for each other without batting an eyelid. Whereas in the workplace most teams join together to complete a task but are quick to blame members of that team when a mistake in noticed.
A team effort means that every member of that team is responsible for every other member’s actions, checking that everyone is doing the right job as well as them checking you. This ensures that there aren’t mistakes, that everyone hits the goal together as one unit, as a family.
How this knowledge changed me!
Knowing that not every employer will be ready to change the way they work, I took the incentive to change the way I think about the world. Finding my own way of job fulfilment, looking to a greater goal, that ensures I must do everything I can to ensure my wages are constant and job security is final. With this knowledge, I can help others see the greater picture and try to unwind that hard coded reward system that they have.