In my corporate career, I spent the first few years learning the language, practicing the forms, and working hard to gain status and influence. This initial period was characterized by a focus on material gain and security, and it lasted for about 5 years. At a certain point, I became disenchanted with the play of things, and as a result I felt less and less engaged. Gradually my attention began to shift to alternative ways of organization and the fundamental question of what a human needs for effective collaboration.
A common question right now in the business sphere is how to better manage millennials in the workplace. I've been hearing this come up the last couple of years. Some say millennials are difficult to manage for a number of reasons. They are commonly described as oversensitive, entitled, and unrealistic. But since they're also the future of society, there's a pressing need to figure out how to fit them into the system we've created. To state it plainly, I'm frustrated at this entire discussion.
Maybe I'm being oversensitive (I'm technically a millennial after all), but this topic rubs a deeper frustration of mine right on the sore spot. To ask, "how can I better manage millennials?" is to not look any deeper than a symptom. I'm more interested in the question, "what about the way we work is ready to change?" In the workplace today we see band-aid after band-aid. So rarely do we get a chance to actually innovate our methods of collaboration.
This tendency is exposed by the millennial question. Millennials have become sensors that are sending an important signal. Workplace dynamics nowadays are largely sterile and predictable, and for good reason. Something in stasis is easier to control. The executive suite would be unable to call the shots effectively if there weren't strict control measures. While this strategy is effective in a number of ways, it's undeniable side effects are low engagement, psychological distress, and emotional suffering for individuals at every level of an organization.
I'm frustrated at what I see as a lack of inquiry at work over the "how" of it all. An inquiry is an alive thing, it's something that we continue to ask even while getting ideas and intuiting new notions. The inquiry remains because it is a better reflection of reality. The stasis of the modern workplace is an attempt to usurp a naturalness that interrelates with humanity. It's an ignoring of our own needs to grow and change.
Yes, it's important to look at what we can do in an immediate sense. What do we need right now for young people to have a better shot at contributing in a meaningful and non-exploitative way? I guess what I'd like to see is that line of thinking expanded to include a self-inquiry. What do we need now (short term thinking), and what about our current ways need changing (long term thinking)?
I'd love to hear any opinions or thoughts on this. Let me know if I'm missing something. This is a topic I'll be writing a lot more about.