I’ve always struggled with the idea of labeling an entire generation of people. Experience is so subjective that the whole enterprise can seem a bit daft.There’s something I was told in driver’s ed: There can be a car crash with five witnesses, and the police can receive five different reports on what happened.
All of this has gotten me interested in the idea of common ground that, considering the subjectivity of experience, is quite a phenomenon. It’s why, in preparation for this blog, I always try to cite a study or poll.
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This morning, I found a video by author Jacob Morgan that speaks to common ground in a way I hadn’t thought of. It also highlights some of the dangers of dividing people by generations.
In the video, he says that, sometimes, companies can spend too much time thinking about millennials.
Purpose? Career opportunities? A company culture and objective that aligns with their own personal ideas? How are these things simply millennial ideas? Aren’t they something that everybody wants?
It’s a good point. Morgan suggests not defining them as millennials, but simply as “new workers.” It’s not about how you’re going to treat millennials, but these new employees.
And that’s why I sometimes think defining people (in any regard, really, not just generationally) can be as dangerous as it is helpful. To stand outside of the problem as, for an example, a baby boomer and wonder how you’re going to treat these millennials, you’re automatically creating a divide.
Some of the “how to market to millennials” literature I read is a great example of this, which is just backwards because that’s the kind of attitude media-savvy millennials see through.
But by taking Morgan’s advice, by thinking of millennials as new employees, you’re bridging the gap. Suddenly, there’s no divide between millennials and baby boomers. They’re simply a new part of your company.
Now there’s a common goal.
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