I've generally hired people around my own age. I'm in my mid-30s, and I've hired folks a little bit older or a little bit younger--but generally employees who have a husband or wife and a few kids, or people on the verge of taking the family plunge.
When I started a new business last year, I decided to try something different. Instead of hiring experienced employees, I wanted to hire fresh or recent college grads and train them up.
Everyone told me that it was a terrible idea.
Fresh college grads and Millennials are entitled, lazy, and coddled. They want everything handed to them. They can't take critical feedback. That's what I kept hearing.
The experience I've had is the exact opposite.
Now I love hiring Millennials, and I may end up only hiring them. Here's why.
1. Millennials work ridiculously hard--but it's not for the reason you expect.
The only thing that Millennials care about is following their passion, conventional wisdom says. They want to live their passion. Their work has to be fun, and not feel like work at all.
But the critics say that "passion" is just code for being lazy. Millennials aren't willing to put in the boring, hard work that it takes to be successful.
The flip side to that--that no one talks about--is that Millennials expect work-life integration. They don't draw sharp boundaries between work and life, and that means that if you can make work reasonably fun, they will actually work harder than older employees.
Ask Millennials to work until 9 p.m. and they won't bat an eye, so long as there's a good reason for it and you're in it with them. That's why working with Millennials is inspiring. Successfully motivating Millennials forces you to connect their work to a passion and a higher purpose for the company.
Do that, and you'll have the hardest working employee you've ever hired.
2. Millennials are amazing at taking critical feedback and improving--if you do it right.
The word on the street is that Millennials are self-centered. All they care about is themselves. It does feel true that they particularly like hearing themselves talk and opine on Drake and the like.
Weirdly, that's also what makes them great at taking feedback.
Millennials know that the career landscape has changed--they won't be staying at the same company for 25 years. There's less benefit to being political and ladder climbing--they know that what's absolutely essential is that they learn and grow and improve their own skills.
Older folks often are set in their ways, and they're super sensitive about critical feedback. They think they know better, and that's what's gotten them to where they are. In fact, it's the old economy that's gotten them to where they are, and they often don't realize how their skills aren't working for them today.
Millennials have nowhere to go but up. Tell them to jump, and they'll ask, "How high?" They're incredibly willing to at least try on your feedback and see if it fits and works for them.
Before you give a performance review to a Millennial, just think to yourself: "How can I not only help them succeed in this instance but give them a lesson on success that can help them for a lifetime?"
Millennials thrive on that kind of feedback, and that will also turn you into a better manager and leader.
3. Millennials are digital natives and they understand media and tech--a lot better than you do.
The internet and the mobile revolution have changed everything. Tech is changing every single industry. No one understands that better than those that were born into it.
When I want to understand Beyoncé's launch strategy for "Formation" or why Drake's latest music video went viral, it's useless to ask someone my own age or older. Young people just get it in their bones.
It's crazy to say it, but that kind of sensibility is actually incredibly valuable, even at work. Communication, for example, is fundamental to all forms of work--like marketing, sales, and more--and it's a muscle that Millennials exercise much more often per day with their hundreds of texts, social-media updates, and selfies.
When I talk to my parents, I'm shocked how little they understand about the new world we live in. That reminds me of how little I know in relation to young people.
Hiring Millennials is a competitive advantage. They get up to speed faster. They're able to make insights more quickly. They've practiced for years what older people need to learn on the job.
Give hiring a Millennial a try and let me know how it goes. You might find yourself like me--not only happy that I did it, but hopeful for the next generation, inspired to help them succeed and make the world a better place.