Today I welcome another guest blogger, Brandie Hinen, Founder & CEO of Powerhouse Learning. Alexandre Dumas once said, “All generalizations are dangerous, including this one.” Below Brandie writes about growing weary of hearing all the generalizations and stereotyping of millennials. As the father of a millennial, I concur. Like most large groups with some similar characteristics (e.g., in this case, an affinity for technology and alternative communication forms), the millions of millennials in the workplace today are a diverse group. – BW
Why I’m Sick of Stereotypes Surrounding Millennials
I might be alone in saying this, but here it goes: I’ve had enough of the millennial stereotypes in the workplace. I travel the country to speak at conventions and conferences, and am the founder of my consulting firm Powerhouse Learning, which helps owners, sales teams and service teams break big barriers. I’ve heard the complaints about millennials, and how some people even go as far as to avoid working with them. The complaints I hear most often is that they are “know-it-alls” or that they are too lazy, or that they are too busy trying to change the status quo. I’m here to try to put a stop to these stereotypes.
As I hear these complaints about millennials, I can’t help but reflect back on my time as a 25 year old entering the insurance industry. I had already been fired from a job, was a single mother who couldn’t afford diapers for my son, and was struggling with my own personal self-esteem and identity. I made a lot of mistakes, fumbled my way through business, but I did the best I could while keeping my integrity.
That was over 20 years ago, and some would say I’ve come a long way. But I will admit, you could have slapped the same labels on me when I was starting out – even though I was a successful producer at the time and moving my way up the corporate ladder.
If you ask me, a main reason for these stereotypes is a fear of change. Millennials are bringing in fresh ideas and new technology – something that intimidates many leaders and professionals. But as a consultant, I am always declaring, “Change is a GOOD thing!” Take my word for it – there is very little negative to what this generation is bringing to our industry; its helping us keep up the times and remain competitive.
Years ago, I was told two emotions prevail in insurance: Fear and Greed. Out of fear and lack of wanting to learn, we wanted to make the banks the bad guys, thinking they would take over in the 80’s and 90’s, then carriers who play both sides, selling to agents and consumers alike, now internet intruders. I suppose it’s human nature to want to blame someone else for what we are or are not willing to do.
But the millennials I have worked with helped me overcome my fears, with their willingness to change, willingness to offer fresh ideas, and commitment to making a difference. They know how to work hard, and they know how to accept feedback and constructive criticism. It was honestly a breath of fresh air for me, to speak with someone young and fresh about how we can shake things up and keep up with (and evolve with) the times.
Let’s remember that the millennial generation are our consumers, our employees, and sometimes even our target demographic. Do we really want to criticize these groups? I think you and I both know that this is not where we should be heading. We should be embracing the people who have a true vision for the future of our industry.
So, I say bring on the Millennials. Bring on the tenacity to ask “Why do it this way?” and “How can we do this better?” and “There’s a faster way, you know…”. If it wasn’t for asking questions like these when I was a 20-something, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have challenged the norm and made positive changes, and most of all, made people think about the way they were conducting and bringing in business. Because it was ME in that seat years ago, and without the willingness to ask those kinds of questions and shake things up, I would not be where I am 20 years later. THEY make ME a better leader; a better person.
If we and our businesses want to grow, we need to consider the perspectives of these generations. After all, they may be the next agency or company CEO.
With much love, Brandie Hinen, CEO Powerhouse Learning
As a result of being asked by people around the country, Powerhouse Learning has created a FREE online initiative to help young professionals succeed in every aspect of business.
Find Brandie at http://PowerhouseLearning.com or brandie@PowerhouseLearning.com or direct at 208 316 7656.
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Important points to keep in mind for any inclination at stereotyping. One statement I’d view with caution: “We should be embracing the people who have a true vision for the future of our industry.” I agree that we should embrace new ideas about how the industry can and should evolve, but caution that future vision requires historical perspective when it comes to things like “disrupters” and “insurtech,” especially start-ups that heavily involve, as decision makers, people who are new to the industry or have limited experience.
Future vision requires historical perspective. I wrote about this in my “Passing Fad or Industry Disruption?” blog post:
The young actuarial student that I wrote about touted Lemonade as something new because she apparently has limited knowledge and perspective about what has happened in the industry in the past. That self-assuredness can be dangerous. It’s one thing to question established practices, but another to be convinced that there is a better way without knowing vital basic information about how and why the industry operates and if that “better way” is the right way.