Leadership consultant Simon Sinek has a message for employers hiring a new generation of millennials: their workforce shortcomings aren’t necessarily their fault.
Sinek says employers see millennials as “entitled, narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused and lazy.” While that assessment may be fair when comparing millennials to employees of previous generations, Sinek says millennials were dealt a bad hand.
Sinek’s answer to a question about millennials in the workforce on Inside Quest went viral when he bashed the environment in which millennials were raised and explained his take on why so many of them have difficulty adjusting to the corporate world.
Sinek sees a major disconnect between the “every child wins a prize” approach many parents and educators took with millennial children and the dog-eat-dog reality check they get when they enter the corporate world. Employers can be baffled when millennial hires expect special recognition for completing standard assignments or expect to be reassured when they are unable to complete tasks.
Many millennials were raised in an environment in which they received A’s simply because their parents complained to their teachers or received passing grades simply because of school initiatives to minimize or eliminate failures. Sinek says these millennials have been repeatedly told they are special their entire lives. They are then accused of being entitled and narcissistic when they turn around and act as if they are special in the workplace.
“They are thrust into the real world and in an instant, they find out they’re not special. Their mums can’t get them a promotion… And by the way, you can’t just have it because you want it,” Sinek says.
Despite the unappealing qualities Sinek sees in millennial employees, he urges employers to be understanding of the unfortunate circumstances in which they were raised.
Sinek also sees social media sites like Facebook Inc FB, Twitter Inc TWTR and Snapchat as a key cause of millennials’ impatience and lack of focus.
Sinek says that the dopamine released in the brain when children and teens use social media makes the platforms chemically addictive the same way alcohol, gambling and smoking are.
He believes giving children smartphones at a young age is “the equivalent to opening up liquor cabinets.”
“In times of stress, they’re not turning to a person, [they’re] turning to a device [for] temporary relief,” he says.
Since Sinek’s interview was uploaded to YouTube in October, it has been viewed more than 3.3 million times.
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