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Michelle joined R&R in April 2015 and oversees all the editorial content that goes into every issue. She also focuses much of her efforts on multimedia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairness vs. Accountability: What do Millennials REALLY Want?
Taking to task the assumption millennials don't understand life is not always fair
Accountability: (n) The quality or state of being accountable; especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions.
Fairness: (adj) Treating people in a way that does not favor some over others.
Ever done a quick Google search on “millennials in the workplace”? You will come up with hundreds, likely thousands, of articles from this year alone. You’d be hard pressed to find an industry event where some talk about generations in the workplace is not on the agenda.
This is a big topic right now as four generations struggle to co-mingle in the business world, and a fifth generation sits in the wings, ready for its opening act in the next few years.
I found myself deep in the trenches of frustration at PLR Expo last week during a session with David Coletto. Mr. Coletto is just 33 years old, but has accomplished much more in his three decades than most will in a lifetime. He’s a founding partner and CEO of Abacus Data, has his doctorate, is a public speaker, and an adjunct professor – just to name a few.
Truthfully, I found the fact that he was talking about millennials, being one himself, a bit off-putting. I do not believe, in the restoration industry, that someone standing up and defending and encouraging the acceptance millennials is all that helpful. Instead, speakers should be addressing how each generation can appreciate the others, and learn to work together (see Violand’s Executive Summit course with Amy Shannon). Coletto essentially defended millennials for who they are, and why they are the way they are (aka: helicopter parents, children of the latchkey generation, awards for failure, live at home longer, etc.)
Coletto ruffled some serious feathers in the room on multiple points he made. In particular, one gentleman announced he had recently cleaned house of millennials in their company when they couldn’t make it work! Yes, I’m 100 percent serious. I’ll check my opinions at the door about that.
The point I really want to hit in this post is in regards to Coletto’s statement that millennials want to be treated fairly. The gentleman I mentioned earlier questioned, rather passionately, why everything must be “fair” to millennials – “weren’t they taught life isn’t always fair?”
I do not think millennials want fairness, I think they want accountability.
Traditionally, employees did not share opinions with their bosses. They heard what the boss wanted, and responded respectfully before getting back to work. Today, millennials engage in back-and-forth conversations with bosses and leaders much their senior every day, naturally. Unlike baby boomers and gen-exers who are more likely to stay put in their current job for the long haul, millennials in many cases are just starting their careers. They’re willing to be picky, and don’t want to work for a company where they don’t feel valued and appreciated. Doesn’t everyone feel like that at the end of the day, whether they’ll admit it or not?
My point: I think millennials are just quicker to jump ship if they see problems within an organization, and that usually boils down to problems with accountability, not fairness.
Millennials have the ability to be diehard, completely dedicated employees to companies they respect. That starts with accountability at the top.
At the IMACC Conference in late October, speaker Linda Galindo said something I consider purely brilliant: “If you don’t hold your underperformers accountable, you punish your best performers.”
Too many leaders have the mindset that they’re in this to rescue, fix and save. Why don’t you empower your employees to save themselves? Show them how. You must lead them… that is different than managing them.
I really had not heard anything about the importance of accountability in the workplace until I started working at R&R. But the more I learn about it, the more I realize it ticks off so many of the boxes a millennial is looking for in an employer – because being accountable sets off a chain reaction within so many other facets of business. Without accountability, you lose things like efficiency, meeting deadlines, customer satisfaction, employee dedication, and the list goes on and on.
Leaders listen up – accountability starts with you. You cannot expect your employees to follow through, get things done, show up on time, act a certain way, etc., if you don’t first pave the way by example.
Any employee feels a little miffed if they see a coworker slacking or making unacceptable mistakes that get swept under the rug, while they themselves are taken through the ringer for something else. That does not just apply to millennials – but unlike other generations that have perhaps been a little more passive about shortcomings, millennials speak up – or look for something else.
Want to know more about accountability? Here are some links to some great resources right here on R&R’s website.