I got caught up in a LinkedIn discussion last week over an article that was asking when we would stop bashing millennial workers and focus on management’s part in performance. There are two sides to the challenge of working with any generational group, and I was trying to remind my fellow commenters that we should really focus on the single manager-employee relationship and not group everyone into one pot.
Then someone said something that opened my eyes to what a lot of millennial employees have been dealing with since childhood; that many of them have protective, hovering “helicopter” parents watching everything that happens to their child, even in the workplace.
So what happens when you take a manager, who lacks basic management communication skills and pair them with a millennial employee? If the employee does everything perfect, the world spins just fine. But if like most employees we make mistakes when we are learning, and our manager doesn’t know how to give feedback, or avoids it all together, things crash quickly. Now add a human resource factor that only sees performance issues from management’s point of view and things can get toxic.
Everyone reading this has known of a manager that has screwed up and blames a staff member to take the heat off themselves. If the employee that gets blamed realizes that they are being setup or treated unfairly, this usually gets cleared up quickly and the manager learns not to try that again. But when the employee is newer to the workforce, like so many of the millennial generation, they often don’t realize they are being treated unfairly. But their parents do!
Let me repeat this, millennial employees might not realize that they are being treated unfairly at work, but their parents do! Now you are dealing with a millennial parent, a mother grizzly, and you are about to get eaten for lunch.
See millennial parents have experienced poor management and can see the signs. They are well aware of employment laws, and what companies can and cannot do. They are also the people who know who to call, where to report the violations to, and have the money to hire attorneys. Ouch, why would you want to deal with all that?
Parental involvement doesn’t stop with school. It is always there, and ever-present. So if you are going to play games with a millennial employee with the assumption they are too naïve to fight back, I say beware. Because even though the employee may not initially know they should fight back, once Mom & Dad find out, the fight is on.