It has become fashionable to berate the millennial generation for its sense of entitlement, narcissism, and rejection of social conventions taken as read by their baby boomer or Generation X managers.
In my trips around the industry I routinely hear groups of seemingly sensible and impressive senior PR pros suddenly bemoan their lot when the subject comes up of having to manage this 20 to 30-year-old cohort. It seems to be one topic on which everyone can get together and have a good old moan about “things not being like that when I was their age.”
But I have to say I find this attitude misguided at best, lazy and tiresome at worst. And is it any wonder that young workers respond negatively if they are subject to such attitudes from their managers and role models?
This, after all, is the generation that is going to really shift the PR industry to new heights and solidify its role as the gatekeeper of conversations with stakeholders and the masters of earned, shared, and owned media.
Instead of constantly concentrating on the perceived negative traits of Generation Y, I believe it is far more productive and positive to focus on their digital and social expertise, their entrepreneurial spirit, and their community mindedness.
They work long hours for low pay with the shadow of significant student loans hanging over their heads.
Given the right management, motivation, and coaching, Generation Y has the potential to supercharge the PR industry into the next era – an era where the power of social media will truly be harnessed by brands and corporations to maximize the effectiveness of communications.
Employers that don't construct a working environment like this will miss out on the brightest talents out there, because if one thing is sure about Generation Y-ers it is that they will move elsewhere if they don't feel their potential is being reached at their current employer.
So let's stop hating on millennials, give them a break, and work with them positively to usher in this new era of conversation and interaction. You might be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.