5 strategies to help millennials excel
5 strategies to help millennials excel
28 NOVEMBER 2012 8:21 AM

Millennials are stigmatized as self centered and lazy, but they have skills and a wealth of knowledge that can benefit any business in the long run.

I find it amusing the amount of articles I read on a daily basis that are promising the newest and best way for the millennial generation to get ahead in the workplace. The generation dominates the food-and-beverage employment landscape.

When the term millennial is introduced as a topic of conversation, it is often followed by the following buzz: erratic, non-loyal, egocentric, social media junkies, among others. Due to these judgments, the perception miscasts this generation in a negative light opposed to bridging the gap between your business’ strategic plans and cultivating the fast-paced work environment where millennials thrive.

Brandon M. Springer-McConnell

Numerous research studies can be found on generational workplace challenges. In fact, one of the world’s largest hotel brands invests a complete section of training for their GMs on the understanding of the core values, beliefs and potential challenges with adults ranging from traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen Xers to the current millennials. Having an understanding of these differences allows us as fast-paced, on-the-go leaders to step back and take the moment we need to view the situation from the other person’s perspective.

There are a few things from my experience working with Fortune 500 companies that can help millennials move forward in their careers while gaining the trust and respect of both their peers and their leaders:

1. Make an immediate impact … through support of your team. An immediate impact does not come from you shredding the perceived old-school way of thought on your first day at a new job. While it certainly is one way to make an impact, it’s not quite the one you are looking to make. Start by establishing relationships with everyone you come in contact with. Your peers, your supervisors, your managers, even the faces in the back of the house. Trust me, they will save you when you need it.

2. Use technology and ecommerce as a support tool for your objectives. Both the millennials and the newest I-Generation group realize that technology has made our world remarkably smaller. Google seemingly has an answer for everything. TripAdvisor and Yelp revolutionized the way we market and communicate with our guests. And even if you’re feeling lonely, Apple’s Siri is only a push of a button away. Proper utilization of these tools is key. As a millennial, use your use your tech skills and social media savvy to identify objectives, such as a Facebook page or Twitter account, that can help the business grow.

3. That idea that came to you in the shower this morning is not always the holy grail of ideas. This may seem an interesting proposition to the younger generation, who believe that coming fresh out of an esteemed school with a degree and a 4G connection that they can find out the most current and best information on how to shape a project. However, it is important to remember that the vast majority of successful plans do not materialize overnight or without collaborative input and development from a team of experts who are your peers and supervisors. While the initial plan may seem brilliant, it is only the ground floor of where you could take the project.

4. Patience, patience, patience. We have grown up in an instant celebratory world. Baby boomers grew up with respect for company, title and rank. Even Gen Xers were at least loyal to a supervisor, if not to a company. But some millennials have tried to turn the workplace into a grown-up version of the schoolyard game king of the mountain, where you fight everyone you can to get to the top and stay there as long as possible. This event is cyclical, and you’re never at the top long enough before someone has taken your spot. Then, you’re off to another mountain to try this destructive process all over again.  However, we must embrace the journey to get where we want to be in life. The titles, the money, the corner office, the big home and car will all be there in the end. Learn and embrace everything, both good and bad, so you can earn your trip up the mountain. I promise your view at the top will be better for it.

5. Never stop learning. OK, I admit this one is for both in and out of the workplace and is indeed a little self serving, but, hey, I’m a millennial too, right? There are numerous ways to move your personal development forward. There are tremendous opportunities to achieve professional designation by partnering with groups such as the American Hotel & Lodging Association and their respective educational institute, local young professionals networks, philanthropic endeavors and even becoming involved in your local chamber. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you stay active and keep challenging yourself.

It may go without saying, but the millennials will indeed become our next generation of global leaders and will inherit all the responsibility that they are hungry for already. We must first change the negative stigmas that bind us in the workplace and then take a moment to step back and appreciate the wealth of knowledge that surrounds us.

History has proven itself cyclical, and mistakes are always made by making decisions without taking the time to think things over. I just hope the promise of my generation’s leaders is not lost trying to capture their brilliance in a 140 character tweet.

Brandon M. Springer-McConnell – CFBE, CHT currently works with TMI Hospitality, who holds a hotel portfolio of close to 200 properties and growing. He heads up Learning & Development while working with the training department and it’s respective Director on course materials and future strategic learning opportunities. He was also a Disney Trainer and has worked with multiple national companies in leadership role.

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