Closing the "M" Gap

You have seen them, I know you have.

The senior citizen who berates a cashier for needing the register to count the correct change. The old guy in the neighborhood yelling at the kids to stay off his lawn and reminding everyone that every child showed respect for their elders when he was young.

Don’t be that crabby old-timer when it comes to “these kids and their cell phones.” In the largest way possible, you need to stop thinking about how to change those millennials and instead start to work with them. They are taking over the world, you know?

Now let’s get something straight.

I am not talking about ignoring rude or disrespectful behavior in the workplace. It’s never OK to use foul language, make sexual references or otherwise be crude. 

I am talking about recognizing that today’s younger workforce has been raised differently than we were, and their work behavior has changed accordingly. Consider: as many of us were entering the workforce, only one in six American households ever owned a computer. As late as 2000, only two-thirds of homes had them. Today every house has a dozen or more connected devices that are more powerful than any computer we owned 10 years ago. That much technology is going to change the way you communicate and behave. 

Everything these millennials have been raised with is computerized – the car, the climate controls, the screens they watch and the shows and movies they stream. 

Whereas we were tentative around technology and required “training,” they want to dive in. They’re not afraid to break it. They’re afraid it won’t do what they want it to do. That’s why they can be so hard to manage. They’re not waiting for the cautionary speech from their parents or the boss. They’re ready to try, to fail, to try again and to succeed. As a manger of these folks, you need to recognize that their behavior is different and can have a lot of advantages. 


You know what I am talking about. You use your phone for calls, text messaging and to check email. They use it to buy movie tickets, make dinner reservations and turn on the AC 30 minutes before they get home. How awesome is it to have workers who want to try things and not just do it the same old way? So what if they leave their cell phones face up on the desk and respond to group texts?

Recognize that the younger generation is driving change and embrace it. 

Recognize that they likely have a shorter attention span. Why? Because they only pay attention to things that matter to them. So …. Matter to them. Make the work meaningful and creative. Give them a chance to succeed.  Understand the millennials are resilient and flexible.

I am all for new and different. But don’t shut out all ideas. And stay off my lawn. 

March 26, 2019 | Pat Bramhall