What’s Really Wrong with Millennials? (Hint: Nothing!)

Mike Kotsis People Issues Leave a Comment



I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard business leaders groan about the millennials in their companies. Millennials are difficult to manage because they’re so vocal, they don’t work the same way “we always did,” and they question everything. It often seems as if leadership teams want to just throw their hands up in the air and be done with them. Their tone suggests that “Millennial” is basically just a label for difficult employees.

But one team discovered something surprising about the millennials in their company.

Recently I was facilitating an annual planning session, and the team began enumerating all the issues millennials were causing them. The room was brimming with emotional energy, so I prioritized this as Issue #1 for the team to IDS. There was more here than met the eye, and I guessed the team would be surprised by what they’d discover.

I was right.

Identifying the Millennial Issue

Together we began identifying what the real issue was. Millennials Question Everything quickly rose to the top. So I asked, “What is it that millennials want?” The team listed all the questions millennials were peppering them with. The topics boiled down to these five questions:

  • Where are we going?
  • What am I accountable for?
  • How do I know if I’m doing a good job?
  • How can I help?
  • How do I express my ideas?

Once the team saw these questions written on the whiteboard, they were stunned. Those questions weren’t unique to millennials – they applied to every great employee in the company. Their best employees could easily answer those questions—and in fact, they’re exactly the kinds questions every person should be asking throughout the company.

So, what did the leadership team do with those questions?

Discussing the Millennial Issue

Those five questions needed to be resolved. As the team began to propose solutions, we connected the questions with the original context of the EOS® Five Foundation tools. Again, the team was surprised by what they discovered:

Tool 1: Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO) – Having a clear compelling vision, agreed upon and in writing by the leadership team, answers the question, “Where are we going?”

Tool 2: The Accountability Chart™ – A complete Accountability Chart that spans the entire company answers the question, “What am I accountable for?”

Tool 3: Scorecard – Do you have department scorecards in place, so that every seat in the organization has 1-3 activity-based numbers measured on a weekly basis? Then you can answer the question, “How do I know if I’m doing a good job?”

Tool 4: Rocks – Helping each person to clarify their most important priority for the next 90 days answers the question, “How can I help?”

Tool 5: Level 10 Meeting™ – If you’re meeting weekly to make sure everyone’s priorities and numbers are on track and to provide an opportunity to address issues, you’re answering the question, “How do I express my ideas?”

Not only were millennials asking the right questions, my client already had the tools to answer them! So how did they implement the solution?

Solving the Millennial Issue

They created a To Do to connect the five key questions to the 5 EOS Foundation Tools in their upcoming State of the Company Meeting. They agreed to make this a part of their 5-5-5 Quarterly Conversations™ going forward – to be extra clear on making sure every single employee understands how these questions can be answered for them by consistently using the EOS 5 Foundation Tools.

By now, the team had become energized about the millennials in their company. The operating system for their business would drive clarity, engagement, and accountability that millennials—and all their employees—were craving. Thanks to the great work of this team, not only have millennials become a vital part of the company’s continued success—the organization is even clearer on what the right person in the right seat looks like—millennial or not!

Get the Most from Your Millennials

What about you? Have you been frustrated by the millennials in your company? You might actually be dismissing the most valuable people in your organization. IDS the issue at your next leadership Level 10 Meeting just like this team did, and see what happens.

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