“In the absence of information, we fill in the blanks with our imagination.” -Dave
Let me tell you the story of my best friend, Dave. I met Dave at a Denny ‘s on Walnut street in Bloomington, Indiana. I was a doe-eyed freshman in college and he was approaching his sophomore year. Winter time had just begun and my gray Crown Victoria was still covered with piles of snow as I drove the large beast into the parking lot. I made my way through the swinging doors of the restaurant and asked for an application. Dave was a server there. It was thanks to Dave that I got that job, secured him as my roommate months later, and made my way towards the cynical adulthood I would come to know in college.
Dave remembered everything by year. He would say, “Back in 1999 when the such and such album came out and the kids were drinking apple pucker and staying out too late.” Dave was in his 30’s but his references solidified the eras. He would reminisce about decades of good tv shows that later generations would never know. At any given time you can find him in a simple white-tee or a thrown-on button up with old jeans; electronic device in one hand, coffee in the other. Dave and I were friends during some of the most influential years of our lives; making the most out of college between small venue concerts and house parties, sliding into classes hung over, and getting food from the dorm cafeterias. We were living a micro-version of what we thought to be an adult life. Dave and I were a staple in what was so cleverly referred to as “The Oregon Trail Generation.” Not only did we grow up playing outside, but we were on the cusp of the end of “the dream.” We remained hopeful through philosophy classes, inspired through businesses classes, and moved by the hustle of the University setting.
Years later, Bachelor Degrees in hand with hopeful smiles and bright-eyed wonder we walked through the doors of corporate America. Corporate America giggled at us as we were escorted to our cubicles under horrible florescent lighting and our dreams of big money and managing were crushed. Welcome to entry-level.
We realized that we’d have student loans we could barely pay in shitty corporate jobs we never really wanted. We’d spend the next three years being cynical and bitter. We would write emails from corporate America and stay friends for what is going on 13 years now. We see the millennials go through the same buzz-kill only they don’t seem to be able to manage not having gotten their way.
To this day we bantered on and he inserts one liners to make sense out of the world. We discussed how graffiti in the bathroom had approached an all time low due to updated Facebook status and Instagram photos.
Dave still discusses life in years and we aren’t as cynical as we once were. We are often searching for meaning in life through banter. Looking back I now understand that the important part was the friendship. The important parts, the really important ones in life are relationships. They always have been and always will be.
How do we prepare for millennials in the workforce? What are we missing when it comes to understanding this generation? Why do we want it to be similar to generations before it?
Some people see the millennials as an entitled generation; that they expect things they didn’t earn. A generation that is used to instant gratification. After all, they never had to press rewind on a cassette player and wait 5 minutes for it to rewind. The millennials are used to anything they want at the touch of a screen. They are different. They are very different.
There is a new status quo. The millennials want quicker, faster and easier. I mean, can we blame them? We might see it as collaborative social anxiety and an embellished sense of self. However, what if we change the way we see it? How can we begin to adapt for the millennial workforce?
What if we said, they have an ability to collaborate and a high sense of pride for their work to resemble self.
As psychology heads towards positive affirming, we should establish more hope for the future. Previous generations need to update our attitude while the millennials update their status. The millennials want consistent feedback and less aggressive micromanaging.
Preparing for the millennial workforce takes a different approach:
- Encourage Collaboration – Millennials are encouraged by competition. They are competing for “likes” and not just on their Instagram, but in the workforce.
- Learn from their Tech Savvy– Learn something from your younger counterparts. They are tech savvy and they have been using iPads since elementary school.
- Give them Independence– Independence is important to the millennials. Micromanaging this generation will cause nothing but headache for you and quitting for them.
- Welcome Change – As a hiring manager or business owner you will have to accept where this new generation is. Change is here and it happens faster than it used to. This generation embraces change. You need to as well.
- Cultivate Inspiration– Cut the coddling, but keep up with the Kardashians. Millennials are inspired by realities that past generations may not understand. They are influenced by social excitement and energized by new ideas.
- Recognize their Values– Money isn’t enough. They use plastic or scan apps to pay for things. They don’t place value on money. They have barely even seen it. They want to take a selfie at Machu Picchu instead of buying that new BMW. The monetary value doesn’t override the freedom.
We are not impressing upon the indulgent. We are not acting like overprotective parents. We are building a new workforce that appreciates positive feedback and collective collaboration. So how do we prepare for the millennials to take over the workforce? We encourage, we connect, and we inspire.
The coffee shop rocks some stellar music this morning. 1901 by Phoenix blasts through the speakers as I sit in the back corner watching the locals swing through and converse around the shop. The Sit and Stay Café houses a bookshelf where patrons can exchange reading material. There are piles of old books and ironic literature. “Tears of the Giraffe” stands out as I turn to the lady next to me and she calls out, “Excuse me?” She asks me if I know which coffee is the best? I look up from The Orange County Register and lean slightly forward to suggest the one on the far right. After she fills her mug, she swings back to her seat and we begin to engage in conversation. She is a delightful older woman with a southern accent and bright blue eyes. She tells me that she is from Texas and visiting her daughter and son-in-law here in sunny California. She talks about seeing her grandchildren and how excited she is to spend time with them. I smile back, ask questions, and express admiration for the exchange that took place. I get back to my breakfast sandwich and black coffee as I sift through the newspaper. I watch as two young girls take a photo and discuss uploading it to Instagram. This leads me to immediately think of hashtags, which leads me to think of texting. Then, I am reminded of a time when passing notes was cool. In school when you wanted to elicit the attention of a friend or chat, you had to pass a note. I recall intricate folding and the rush of passing it so the teacher wouldn’t see. A thrill in its own right.
A friend and I reminisced about dial-up the other day. She recalled her parents having to get two phone lines because you could not use the internet and be on the phone at the same time. There was a time when we still had to be patient. The lady in the coffee shop was in her 60s, nearly 30 years older than me and these girls were probably around 15, so about half the age gap. I feel slightly removed from social engagement via app. What happen to conversing in the coffee shop or asking a stranger a question or engaging in a conversation? I will tell you what happen. #facebook #instagram #snapchap #socialmedia. All of this seems to be causing something more than just a lack of communication. It causes a lack of thrill, a lack of adrenaline, and a lack of excitement. We are tagging photos and selfies everywhere we go. We want to project happiness without truly understanding what it takes to grasp it. There is no grace for messes. We are gaining more control and causing more anxiety in a world where letting go and learning how to handle change are very important. We online date as a result of the downfall of present and personal communication. We become neurotic. We become impatient. The lyrics of 1901 still play. “Watch them build up a material tower. Think it’s not going to stay anyway. Think it’s overrated.” The dynamics of human relationships have not changed much in those 45 years from the teens I see to the older woman I speak with, but so much has changed in our means of communication.
I am proposing that ten years ago, we knew how to balance lack of control in life and bounce back from change. Are we creating a generation so in control that the slightest change will cause fear? We used to have to wait for a boy or girl to write back or tell the friend if they liked us back; rejection built character. Now we swipe to the left and the fear of rejection is gone. Lack of fear or other human emotions causes us to gain more control. The more control we think we have, the less we actually do. Anxieties and fears have to be dealt with. In order to be dealt with, they have to be created.
One day at the gym I overheard a man and woman chatting with one another. The woman was talking about her upcoming celebration for 23 years of marriage and he was discussing that his 40 year marriage anniversary had just passed. I remain in awe about how these couples manage to give support and love throughout the years. I also can’t help but wonder how couples today will connect and survive in today’s technology driven society.
The digital age brought around a huge evolution for business and educational styles. Our daily lives have changed significantly due to search engines and social sites. But have our dating lives and our self-development increased at the same pace? Smart phones have become a great technological advance to cellphones. Have humans evolved in their dating styles or are we still T9 dating?
The release of smart phones and social dating sites has left us no more savvy consumers in the dating world than we are in the public arena. If you are hoping to get out of bad dating patterns, hiding online won’t help. Give a girl who dates jerks 5 guys and she is likely to pick the 1 jerk out of the bunch. Give her 100 guys and she is still likely to pick the jerk. The real question is if your mental aptitude for dating has enough ram to keep up with the current technology. Maybe it is time to upgrade ourselves before we go fishing, get on ok cupid, download the tinder app or pay for sites like match and e-harmony.
The first smart phone came out in 1993. In the last ten years smart phones are the new norm. But what has happen to our dating lives? What are the advances to our human development that are making dating better today then it was ten years ago? In a world where you have 1,009 Facebook friends and 876 Instagram followers, the only human evolution has happened to our egos. That doesn’t equate with making us more responsible dating partners. Bigger egos may make approaching another person easier as we become more aggressive, but it isn’t helping us develop compassion for being thoughtful in romantic relationships.
Society might be on the cusp of social explosion. I can not tell you how many photos I have seen where guys have their pants unbuttoned and I can almost see their junk. This isn’t what I signed on for. This type of dating has allowed the douches to get even douchier (as if it was possible). I find myself erasing more messages than actually connecting on a real human level. What is socially appropriate publically weeds out that kind of behavior and nonsense. But online, anything goes.
You are what you are online and offline. Whatever attitude, defenses, lifestyles, or energy that you have as a person, you will have on a computer. It is important to develop yourself with other people in mind. Sorry, Selfies, it’s not all about you.