Optimize For Millennials?

Unless you just crawled out of the primordial ooze, you’ve heard a lot about how you must optimize your business to make millennials happy. Coddling, free time and pet-happy policies are mentioned often.

In working with many companies that question what to do about this and observing what does and doesn’t work, I concluded the following: Do not build your business around the expectations of the people on the bandwagon tooting their horns about millennials’ special quality. That’s about as smart as building government policy around Greek pensioners’ expectations.

The only businesses I’ve observed that are completely flummoxed by the “changing” workforce are those that lacked positive, effective leadership before the term “millennial” was even coined.

It was always a good idea to let people participate in designing their own work, to combine accountability with authority, and to treat people like valuable assets rather than chattel.

If you don’t have a well-defined culture that allows for enjoyment and participation along with the demands of high performance, it’s not that the world is changing — it’s just that you still have one foot in the ooze.

Do we have younger people in the workforce who were coddled by Mommy and Daddy and don’t know how to pick up after themselves? Of course! If you’re building your company to reward this behavior, good luck! You’ll likely get what you plan for.

I still see great leaders building performance-driven companies. It’s not about coddling millennials; it’s about smart leadership. If you’re familiar with the economic term “comparative advantage,” then you know you should do what you do best and leave others to do the rest. My strong advice is to let the managers whining about the millennials figure out whether to let them work in their PJs, and you determine how to run a high-performance company. Over time, you’ll attract high performers, and they’ll draw those whom they deserve.

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