Mr Simon Sinek, the self-proclaimed ‘visionary’, seems to think he has it all figured out for the millennial generation. After years of being told we ‘were special all the time’, getting ‘participation medals for coming last’, and having anything we could ever want in life, we have emerged from our hermit-like caves of instant gratification to a world in which we are incapable of forming meaningful relationships and find the modern workplace an inconsiderate alien environment.
Stereotype’s unbounded, Sinek seems to be utilising an incredibly narrow social brush to paint a complex issue. Calling upon what he proclaims as ‘very clear’ science, Sinek seem to have cracked the physiological, sociological and neurological issues that need to be resolved in order for the millennial generation to be of any use.
He’s a powerful orator, with convincing ideas on the surface. One’s that are easily agreeable; take the mental health issues that come with social media and mobile phone use. However, dig a little deeper and consider how Sinek’s opinion can be confronted by a plethora of countering arguments: it seems that maybe his utter confidence in proclaiming the truth might just be more to do with his background in advertising than any clear evidence. It’s simply irresponsible to assume a whole generation, of 75 million people, can be characterised negatively in the same way.
Despite the associations proclaimed by Sinek, believe it or not, we’re actually a great bunch.
Our supposed ‘idealistic’ vision of the modern workplace is pushing companies to evolve, creating a culture of mindfulness and enhancing the well-being of everyone. We’re inquisitive, highly educated and constantly looking for opportunities for development. We’re creative, growing up in a fast-moving digital age, willing to think outside the box. We are constantly working against stagnation, towards new ways of thought.
I realise I’ve countered Sinek’s generalisations with a number of my own generalisations. However, the point is that the situation is significantly more nuanced than Sinek makes out. In reality, the millennial generation have a huge variety of skills and knowledge on offer, that can be drawn upon to shape the future world of work for the better. We are capable of much more and will achieve much more than the previous generation, just as each has done before.
With 35% of the global workforce being millennials, the task is not to wrongly brand them ‘narcissistic, entitled and hard to manage’, but appreciate the opportunities on offer to work with this highly qualified generation, understand the complexities of each individual and make the best of their invaluable skills to enhance your organisation.