“I’ll be running that place in a few weeks!” was my daughter, Victoria’s, near immediate response after she got her first job at Marshall’s.  Within a few weeks after starting there, she knew it was going to be a horse of a different color.

I have adult children.  They are all Millenials.  They weren’t brought up getting everything they wanted.  They had chores everyday.  Before they could have the privilege of driving, they had to have a job so they could pay their own insurance.  Even with this strong influence to work and be responsible, some would call Victoria’s attitude towards work a sense of entitlement (there were a lot more things she thought she’d get at work).

Just to mention the word “entitlement” around some gets their dander up.  I, personally, think the word gets a bad rap.  I don’t like to think that word as a negative, I prefer to look at it more as a positive expectation.

We have been bombarded over the past two decades with self-help books telling us to be positive; that good things will come to us if we just have the positive expectation.  Further, science tells us that people with a positive outlook live longer and are happier.  So, what’s wrong with our youngest (and brightest) generation wanting the best?

Some would argue that they want it all without all the work.  I don’t believe that.  I’ve  met with and interviewed hundreds of fantastic people from this generation.  They are bright, enthusiastic and want to make a difference.  We are short sighted if we don’t harness the power of the positive expectation that they bring to the table.

I equate this power as to the “Force” in Star Wars.  It can be harnessed for good or it can go to the dark side (or, worse, out of the organization).  How can you harness it?

Listen:  Opposed to speaking to be heard, stop and listen.  Listening gives us the opportunity to learn about the person and get to know them as a person.  We also will find out what that person is expecting and how we can help.

Be a coach, not a critic:  It’s easy to find whats wrong.  What’s harder is to find is what’s right and help develop the areas that may need a little help.  Train, develop, and build a path together towards the expectation.   Everyone needs a little help along the way (even you!).

Let them work it out:  Most I’ve met (and interviewed) in this generation like to know what needs to be done, the parameters, and then like to figure out how to figure out how to hit the target.  Remember the old adage of “there is more than 1 way to skin a cat.”

Share YOUR story:  Stories are the cornerstone of any organization.  They are how we transmit norms, values and culture.  Let them know how you “made it” and how they can “make it” too.  Be a beacon of hope to fuel that positive expectation.

In over 500 interviews with people from varying generations, I’ve found two things that I think are interesting and worth mentioning:

Each generation thinks the younger has it easier than they did.  (I am sure you remember your parents telling you how they had to walk to school (uphill both ways) in five feet of snow to school)).  True or not, this belief doesn’t make us bad people, it just makes us human.  We all like to feel special.  Remember what it was like when you were young and those that helped you along the way.
There are many more things that connect us than separate us.  We are all different but we are all human.  Look for the connection points (they’ll be easy to find if you listen) and focus in on those.  Leading is about people and these people are an asset.  They bring new ideas and energy to a team.
In the end, Victoria, quit her job at Marshall’s and moved on to another where her positive expectation was harnessed and leveraged for the good of the team.   That was their loss.  Don’t lose out because you think someone feels entitled, harness that positive expectation and win!

For more information on Chip, visit http://www.speakernow.com/espeakers/8431/Lieutenant-Commander-Chip-Lutz.html?topic=-1

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