Simon Sinek, a bestselling business thinker and author, first confronted millennials earlier this year when his comments on the inadequacies of Generation Y went viral. Now he has revisited the subject, specifically millennials’ conduct in the workplace. He is not impressed.
Sinek, whose TEDx Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” is the third-most- watched talk of all time, has updated his 2014 book Leaders Eat Last to incorporate his research on why millennials are failing to achieve professional fulfillment.
He writes in Leaders Eat Last, which will be re-published on May 23: “Wherever I go, no matter the organization size or industry, managers are looking for guidance on how to lead their millennials.
“Exasperated, many have resorted to simply asking their millennials what they want. Requests from their young workforce range from open plan seating, to more flexibility as to when they work, to providing their meals or a laundry service for them.
“Many executives find that even when some or all of these requests are granted, they still struggle to inspire engagement or loyalty and many millennials remain unable to find the sense of job satisfaction or fulfillment they crave.”
Sinek then observes: “We are starting to hear some new and quite specific complaints about the Millennial Generation that we cannot as easily write off as ‘kids just being kids’. These go beyond the same recycled grievances every generation has about the next. These are unique characterizations that are, significantly, attached to the behavior and performance of millennials in the workplace.
“Many employers complain that the millennial employees, for example, are poor communicators, lack the instinct to be proactive, cannot handle critical feedback, are impatient, are unable to commit, and the big one: have a sense of entitlement.”
Sinek cites the example of Courtney, an entry-level employee who was paid $20 an hour to be on call as a part-time personal assistant while being encouraged to pursue her ambition of being a performance artist when not doing work-related errands. “After some time, Courtney asked for a a raise,” Sinek writes. “She wanted $30 an hour. When asked to make her case for a 50 percent pay increase, she made one simple argument: ‘That’s what I think I’m worth.’ She was not invited again.
“This story is not unique. There seems to be a disproportionately high number of employers who feel that their entry-level millennial employees are making unreasonable demands. Across companies big and small, employers share tales about requests not just for unjustified pay increases, but also for things like premature promotions, customized schedules and open access to senior executives.”
This new culture, notes Sinek, is making life impossible for bosses of millennials: “Rare are the meetings or events that I attend that someone doesn’t ask a question about millennials. There seem to be a huge number of employers, including many millennial employers, who struggle when it comes to leading their youngest workers.
“They express frustration about the generation’s lack of resourcefulness, poor writing skills and demands for early promotions. They also express exasperation that if their millennial employees don’t get what they want when they want it, many simply quit.”
Sinek does applaud millennials’ entrepreneurial spirit and their inclusivity. He also says employers need to be more empathetic of young workers.
He concludes about millennials: “All they need is good, old-fashioned leadership … there is nothing ‘wrong’ with this generation.”