Millennials: Confident, connected, open to change.

GENERATION NEXTI recently moderated a panel discussion entitled “Beyond Craig’s List: Finding and Keeping the Best People.”  It was presented in Austin at the Summit for Texas Independent Restaurateurs, a conference created by the Texas Restaurant Association. A few months ago, I mentioned it to an editor of a national restaurant industry trade publication. He told me, “I’m so tired of hearing about millennials. If you could cut through he B.S. about millennials, that would be great.” Actually he didn’t say “B.S.” I edited that here for public consumption.


More has been written about them than any other generation. They are the largest generation in American history. So there’s a good chance you’re feeling you have heard it all about them and there is nothing to add.

A panel of millennials took the stage after my panel. Their summary?

“We are not lazy, we are not unmotivated, and we do not feel entitled. We are collaborative, inclusive, and we want to be approached though our own communication tools, specifically social media.”

And then they mostly talked about their own businesses and their own lives, which made me laugh on the inside, because they did not deny being the Me Generation.

That’s when it hit me.

My whole career, from the start decades ago to last month’s blog post, “Don’t just Do Something, Stand There,” I have been promoting my belief that the absolute best way to run an organization is for management to include associates every step of the way. The reasons for that are many; but the general concept is centered upon one fact:

As a manager, you have a choice:  do it yourself – include and teach no one; or utilize the expertise of your team, make your life easier, and learn to spot and develop talent. Maybe I have just been ahead of my time.

OK, so millennials want me to contact them through Snapchat and Twitter. I get that. I am of a different generation. I once got a Facebook message from someone who wanted to buy my house. That surprised me. But beyond the communication channel, the fundamentals are the fundamentals.

Include people, be an open book, let them know what is going on, ask them to collaborate on solutions. You don’t have to use their advice, just consider it. People get excited when this process starts, continues, and is sustained. That goes for the tens of millions who are currently 18-34, the millennials, and everyone else.

I think I just cut the B.S. If you are not living this today, think about what you can do to shift into inclusive mode right now. There is another generation coming next, and we don’t know what they’re going to want or how we will be communicating to them, but I guarantee you participation will be a big part of it.