Widgets Magazine

Your Time Will Come

At this year’s InfoComm I can almost guarantee there will be a class, seminar or blog post about how we need to radically alter how we do business because the Millennials are coming. Unfortunately, this will probably amount to Baby Boomers lecturing everyone on best practices, as has been the case at every show or symposium I’ve been to for the last year. As a card carrying member of Generation X, I have to raise my hand and respectfully ask, “Why?”
We have been told that digital communications are what drives Millennials. BYOD, IoT and the like are held over our heads as boogey-men that we must adopt to attract and hold them in jobs. In a recent study conducted by Bentley University, however, 51% of Millennials say they prefer face-to-face communication to email (19%) or texting (14%). This is the opposite of what we have been told by the so called experts.
Contrary to what has been told to us in these seminars, even 50% of Millennials believe that they as a group have a poor work ethic, and 66% say social media usage should be limited at work to increase productivity. One of the causes for this, in my opinion, is that this is the first generation to be raised with self-esteem boosting being a major component of their schooling. Other surveys show that a vast majority of this upcoming generation feel that their schooling gives them everything they need to bypass the entry levels of careers. This has been shown time and again to be false, yet it persists. With so much emphasis given to making them feel good through things like participation trophies and the lowering of standards to ensure everyone feels like a success, the work ethic needed to get by in the real world is lost. You earn that work ethic through starting at the bottom and working your way up.
We’re told that in order to make Millennials feel better, we need to include them in decisions made at the company and give them a feeling of ownership in the direction of the company. Generation X only earned that right not too long ago after years of hard work. Are we now being told that the generation behind us which invented trigger warnings and safe spaces in order to deal with the world outside their bubble is going to be given the right to be heard right out of the gate? What did we just spend 15-20 years of our life working towards and earning? I call shenanigans on that whole concept.
We have been told that the corporate structure needs to flatten out to accommodate the new generation yet when this happens you lose half the meaning of corporate structure. Structure breaks down and there is no leadership. If everything is done by committee and a vote there is no unifying direction. Another side effect of this flattening is that just as my generation is climbing the corporate ladder it’s being pushed over. Way to gut punch the people who have been working there and helping you build the company over the past few decades.
But not all is lost. I know some great younger people in our industry that buck this trend. They work hard and earn the right to help guide the direction of their companies and the industry as a whole. Unfortunately, they seem to be the exception that proves the rule. We should not upend hundreds of years of proven thought on how you progress from apprentice to journeyman to master of a particular trade based on the feelings of a, by and large, coddled generation. We are a still a trade, no matter how much we are knowledge based now.

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