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Growth Leadership Personal Development

Are You Making Faulty Assumptions about Millennials?


One of my colleagues recently attended a panel discussion about millennials. A business professor and two millennial-aged entrepreneurs were on the panel. There were about 25 people in the audience.

“The conversation was pretty academic until the topic of sexism came up,” my colleague tells me. “At that point, three women in the audience began a heated discussion of how entrenched sexism is in their companies. One woman said that men’s ideas about marketing, product development, technology and more, were always valued more than women’s. Another said that she was having a hard time supervising millennial-age men, who did not take her seriously. There were more stories. The eye-opener for me was that these women were working for and with millennials. I thought that millennials were more enlightened.”

Questioning Our Assumptions

Did my colleague think that old-school sexism had disappeared in companies where millennials work and lead? Apparently, he did. I could accuse him of being naïve. But aren’t we all being naïve in some of the assumptions we make about millennials?

It is a topic that I plan to explore more, by asking questions like these . . .

  • Are millennials really more tech-savvy than members of other generations? When you sit in a meeting with a group of people from several generations, do you reflexively turn to millennials when issues of technology arise? Do you pay less attention to the views of other people in the room? If so, you could be overlooking the viewpoints of tech-savvy baby boomers and elders who might know just as much, or more, than the millennials in the room.
  • Do all millennials have less company loyalty than members of other age groups? Many people assume they aren’t as loyal as members of other cohorts are. But I have noticed that many factors (education, economic circumstances, and cultural or national background, to name a few) exert a big influence on individuals’ job loyalty. The year when someone was born is only one factor of many – and arguably not the greatest. Plus, I have noticed that millennials are often highly loyal when they understand what it takes to be valued and promoted in a company. If you provide each of them with an individual, understandable career plan, they will value your organization more.
  • Do millennial business owners practice more enlightened leadership than others? Like Barry, I think that a lot of people tend to assume that younger company owners have set aside negative leadership practices like sexism, prejudice against members of certain groups, favoritism, and even dishonesty. But as recent news stories have shown, that assumption is misleading. Millennials, just like members of other generations, can be good leaders – or bad.
  • Are millennials always good colleagues to other millennials? People who are older than they are – like me – tend to look at them and think, “They must all be getting along pretty well, they’re all about the same age.” How illogical is that? I have seen and heard about plenty of instances of millennials who steal other people’s ideas, play hard at office politics, and worse. Some people just behave that way at work. And then there is the fact that some millennials, just like everyone else, are prejudiced against members of certain ethnic and religious and racial groups, against members of the LBGTQ communities, against women, against men . . . you name it. Prejudice did not vanish the day the first millennial was born.

About Evan Hackel

Evan Hackel is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and franchisee. He is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting in Woburn, Massachusetts. Evan is the host of Training Unleashed and author of Ingaging Leadership. Evan speaks on Seeking Excellence, Better Together, Ingaging Leadership, and Attitude is Everything. Evan is an active member of the C-Suite Advisors Network. To hire Evan as a speaker, visit www.evanspeaksfranchising.com. Follow @ehackel.







Growth Management Personal Development

How to Make Millennials Fall In Love with Working for You

Recent studies find that millennials’ attitudes toward work differ dramatically from those held by members of the older Baby Boomer generation. For example, a recent study from Gallup, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,” reported these findings:

  • 60% of millennials say that the opportunity to learn and grow on the job is “extremely important” to them. In contrast, only 40% of baby boomers feel the same way.


  • 50% of millennials strongly agree that they plan to remain in their jobs for at least the next year. In contrast, 60% of members of all other groups plan to stay in place for that long. The message is that millennials are weighing their options.

Findings like those – and you can easily find more – show that keeping millennials happy and engaged at work can be a challenge. But it can be done. Here are some trends that can have a strong impact on your franchise’s ability to attract, hire and retain the strongest millennial employees.

Millennials like to feel capable and confident in their jobs. They do not like to feel like rookies. Many think of themselves as leaders – or as leaders who are waiting to be discovered. They want to look good and thrive on being able to confidently contribute from the first day they arrive on the job. The right kind of training – both for new and current millennial employees – makes that happen.

Millennials are usually skilled students. They like to apply the learning skills they built while they were in school. To them, learning feels as natural as eating three meals a day. In contrast, getting baby boomers to believe in learning can be a harder sell. They tend to view training as a burden, something they must endure. In contrast, millennials are more likely to say, “Wow, when can I start?”

Millennials are tech-friendly. Most of them love to be trained on their mobile phones and tablets, which are the most powerful training options available to many companies today. The result is better knowledge transfer, even to groups of employees who work in far-flung locations. Baby boomers, in contrast, are more tech-resistant. They are likely to freeze and resist when they hear they are going to be taking company training on their little smartphones.

Millennials like to be part of energized teams. This is a bit of a contradiction, but at the same time millennials think of themselves as individualist entrepreneurs, they also expect to be part of an interesting team. Letting millennials get to know their teammates during training, and fostering a sense of team/group identity, can help convince them that they have joined the right organization.

Millennials like a well-defined career path. Consider creating a personalized career development plan for all new employees. (The exception being seasonal or other short-term workers who will probably not remain with your company for long.) Another idea? Enroll new employees in management training programs from their first days on the job. In a retail franchise, for example, you can enroll them in training that will enable them to manage their own stores in two years, or after another stated period. Millennials like to know their next steps as they build their careers, and training is a fine place to begin.

 And remember training . . .

Training is important to millennials. They are the most energized, skilled and capable generation ever to enter the workforce. Train them well and they will become your organization’s brightest future.

This article is adapted from the book Ingaging Leadership by Evan Hackel.

About Evan Hackel

Evan Hackel is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and franchisee. He is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company, and principal of Ingage Consulting. He is a speaker, hosts “Training Unleashed,” a podcast covering training for business, and author of Ingaging Leadership. To hire Evan as a speaker, visit evanspeaksfranchising.com. Follow @ehackel or call 704-452-7368. Why not have Evan Hackel address your group about franchising success?