On an early, parched Texas summer morning, I drove a few hours south of my Dallas-Forth Worth home to an intentionally aged Texas Hill Country retreat center. I would be releasing mindSHIFT’s new research on workplace engagement and the office of the future to a group of clothing manufacturing executives, who ranged in age from mid-40s to early-60s.
As I unpacked the research, I shifted into our findings on Millennials (18- to 30-year-olds). I could feel the temperature in the room shoot up. Several pent-up opinions bounced around the table like a beach ball punched back and forth in the air. Clearly, I had hit a hot button.
I’ve noticed that the word “Millennial” has become a sort of Rorschach test: It tells us more about the mindset of the group we are speaking with than the subject itself. As the executives aired their grievances about what’s wrong with today’s youth, it didn’t take long for the “memes” to come out: Millennials are—“Disrespectful, entitled, anti-social, selfish, uncaring, digital natives who never answer their phones or email and are represented by the likes of Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Jersey Shore, and Teen Mom.”