Dear First Gen,
On December 21, @DeltaProtectiveServices posted a video to Facebook of their interview with @Simon Sinek, who presented on the challenge of working with millennials. After watching this video, I posted three reasons I didn't think it fully described first-generation professionals.
I will elaborate on my facebook post that addressed Sinek's comment on the first factor that describes Millennials. Sinek defines millennials as individuals born in 1985 and up, and says that they are difficult to manage at work, act entitled, are self-interested, lazy, and unfocused. Yet he also points out that they are motivated by wanting to work for purpose or make an impact.
He credits "failed parenting strategies" for millennials being challenging to work with.
Statement: "Told special, all the time".
Response: We are bred to believe we are special but not in the manner to make us feel entitled (or an amazing gift to the world). Our parents tell us that we have the tools and knowledge to learn and develop into the adults that will allow us to accomplish and reach our dreams. We are elevated to believe that we have the capability to succeed so long as we are determined and make an effort.
Statement: "Can have anything they want in life, just because they want it."
Response: We did not grow up being told we could have anything we wanted because we wanted it. Many #firstgens wanted the basic necessities and wished for them. We were happy to have them. There are first-generation Americans that may have wanted their own room, toys or gadgets, or new clothes rather than hand me downs or sewed.
Statement: "Some got into honors classes not because deserved it, but because the parents complained. Some got A's not because they earned it, but because the teachers did not want to deal with the parents."
Response: We received or earned our grades and did not have parents with clout to switch them. Our #parents generally trusted the teachers and worked with them to improve our grades. We were nervous to receive any bad reports from teachers because our parents did not think the teachers would mislead them about their child's education or progress so we were diligent with our studies.
Statement: "Some got medals for participation, not for winning. They received it because it would make them feel embarrassed and did not want them to feel worse."
Response: We did not get a pat on the back or a high-five unless it was complete and total win. Second place winners were rarely congratulated or even spoken of in the home. Feeling bad about a loss was not allowed, and we did not get time to mope. Rather we had to jump back in and work hard for the next victory.
He also attributes "environment and surroundings" as a reason for difficulty interacting with millennials at work.
Statement: "They are on their phones waiting for the meeting to start so have trouble chatting with their colleagues and form relationships by getting to know them."
Response: We are not disengaged from the world because we did not have so many distractions at home. Our parents could not afford all of the technology, but rather we learned to entertain ourselves by playing with our siblings, cousins, or young aunts and uncles. We have deep trust in our families because there was consistent uninterrupted interactions with them.
Statement: "Cannot enjoy the world without their phones."
Response: We have parents that constantly demand that we put our phones down to appreciate the time spent with them and our families. They do not accept you being on your phone when you are speaking to them or when traveling with them or eating dinner at the table. We are expected to enjoy family or cultural traditions without so much use of our phones.
Simon Sinek did provide a fairly accurate characterization of many millennials. But first-generation professionals had pressures such as family expectations, personal sacrifices, reputation, financial responsibility and childhood experiences that prevent us from exhibiting the same traits as the larger group. The aforementioned are a few, but not all, of the motivations for a first gen to remain in a position regardless of job satisfaction or fulfillment. Their parents repeatedly told them when they were younger, "When you find a decent job that can support you, stay and do not leave for any unjustified reason." As such, first gens will stay in a position beyond the expiration date as well as not risk leaving a job that does not give them purpose or lacks impact because their well-intentioned, sacrificial parents strongly advised them against it. Their level of patience is outstanding and they are in jobs for the long-haul absent any satisfaction at work.
Thankfully, I have job satisfaction and am the employee of a supervisor that considers my happiness and growth so I continue to work in my office for those reasons.
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