Q. I am the managing partner of a family business. We would like to add to our team, but I’m worried we can’t try to hold millennials and Gen Zers to the same standards as other generations without losing them. How do you feel about this?
A. Listen, I’ve got a building full of Gen Zers and millennials — and I love them. If you hire the rights ones, you’re getting people who love calluses on their hands and on their brains. They make the interview process easy too, because there are just two types from these generations: the ones who are unbelievably awesome and the ones who aren’t. But the great ones are not afraid of hard work. They’re passionate, intelligent and mission driven. I mean, they’ll charge the gates of hell with water pistols for something they believe in.
But that means you have to provide meaning in the work they do. They want to see that their work connects to something that matters. They want to be treated with dignity, not like units of production. And they have inquiring minds. Most of them want to know why you do things the way you do them. All that is perfectly okay with me and always has been.
Now, they’re the worst two generations to work for someone who’s just a boss. That’s because bosses push while leaders pull. If you’re going to pull, you have to inform, communicate and share a vision that draws people into your mission. Bosses, for the most part, have a “do it this way because I said so” attitude. That’s not going to last long with Gen Zers and millennials.
I get where you’re coming from though. I’ve still got friends and business associates who tell me we’re going to lose everyone from these generations if we don’t cave in and give them things like “the flexibility to work from home” — which really means, “I don’t want to work much” or “I want to work all the time.” Listen, I understand not everyone who works from home falls into one of those two categories, but some of them do. There are folks who put in 80 hours a week because they can’t put their screens down and live a life. Or they work three hours a day and call it “working from home.” That’s not working from home — that’s working part-time hours for full-time pay. And that’s called stealing.
But millennials and Gen Zers? They are, for the most part, genuine, real people and hard workers. If you give them what you should as a leader, they’ll blow you away with their smarts and what they’re capable of achieving!