And the sign said "Long-haired freaky people need not apply"
In 1970, Les Emmerson of the Canadian rock group Five Man Electrical Band penned a classic tune that struck a chord with a generation of fans we would come to know as the Baby Boomers. The song was a hit and reached #3 on the Billboard Top 100 chart.
The song was described as an anti-establishment anthem and began with lyrics that made it clear the young man asking about the job was not about to be told what he should look like or, by extension, what his values ought to be.
Fast forward almost 50 years and that young man finds himself on the other side of the conversation. He’s the establishment. He’s the one concerned with the work habits, the values, and the motivation of his younger colleagues.
Everywhere you look you find signs that today’s managers are frustrated by their seeming inability to understand and connect with younger generations of workers. Many of these managers were equally frustrated by their managers.
In fact, many of the managers most concerned about the inability of younger generations to take their jobs seriously were part of the biggest social revolution the world has ever known – the 1960s.
In many respects, what today’s managers are experiencing is a crisis of understanding. And it’s not the first time managers have wondered how to work with “the younger generation.” Each generation doesn't seem to understand the one before it and often it's because they look at the members of that generation through the only lens they know ... their own.
It may be that managers are so comfortable with “tried and true” means of working with people that they don’t take the time in their over-the-top, always-on-the-go busy days to find out whether their methods are working – especially with Millennials.
Learning to effectively work with Millennials is critical for today’s managers. Gostick and Elton in their bestselling 2018 book, The Best Team Wins, note that by next year, Millennials will be more than half of the working adults worldwide.
3 tips for getting the most out of Millennials
Oh. And by the way. If you’re interested in reliving four minutes of classic rock, here’s a link to Signs by the Five Man Electrical Band.
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