No one likes to hear that they are doing something wrong. This goes from children to elders, but Millennials are particularly sensitive at coping with being admonished. In the workplace, employers struggle with young worker’s accountability. Following a criticism a manager can expect either an excuse, resentful attitude, or both. In turn, there will likely be diminished performance from that worker or poor morale that is prone to spread.
Can we blame Millennials for this reaction? Not particularly. As children they were hardly admonished or given feedback. They never developed this tough skin nor desire to improve from past performance. Furthermore, there were no distinctions for doing well or failing. This was the trophy generation who received participation awards for trying. Winners and losers alike attended celebratory post-game pizza parties.
It is admirable to insulate children from crushed feelings, but to what extent did this protection never allow them to develop into adults able to cope with the realities of a world full of inequalities? The outcome for everyone is not always the same. In many ways, in life you get out what you put in. And there is not always a great equalizer. Effort pays and laziness suffers. Does this lead to injustices? Sometimes, but it is a reality that all adults must be equipped to face. While this attitude and deficit to cope is unfortunate for Millennials, it can be devastating for employers trying to run an effective office environment.
So what can employers do to counter this challenge? The focus should be on providing awards and incentives rather than on distributing punishments. Millennials will shut down when admonished, so try to focus on encouraging good behavior, than on punishing the bad. Millennials are motivated by praise, communal activities, casual dress incentives, and paid time off. That is not to say that punitive action is never appropriate, rather the first line of defense should always be positive. This may not be the best way to run a business, but it may be the only way to cope with a Millennial workforce in the interim.