Are Millenials More or Less Resilient Than the Rest of Us? Part 2 of 2

Last week we looked at Millenial resilience when it comes to personal relationships. This upcoming generation, because of the way they interact with the world in a sort of “impermanent” fashion, might actually be MORE resilient. They shake it off, and nothing plagues them for too long, because they see the world through ever-shifting, attention-grabbing soundbites.


This week, we’ll take a look at how Millenial resilience functions in the workplace. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t fare nearly as well.


The millennial generation grew up in the world “everybody gets a trophy.” Some schools have done away with honor role in the past decade or so, because no one wanted to hurt a child’s feelings. The idea behind the “everyone gets a trophy” philosophy is that sparing a child from rejection would build healthier children. In reality, however, it does the opposite.


Think about a house cat, eating canned tuna every day and sleeping on a pillow. One day someone opens a door to the outside, and shoves the cat out. Cats are descended from wild animals! She’ll be fine! But the cat never learned how to handle the big, wide world. She knew she liked tuna in a crystal dish, but she didn’t know to look both ways before crossing the street. She wasn’t prepared.


Many millenials who were raised to expect a trophy enter the real world presuming they will be a success at everything they do, because they were protected from failure early in life. This means when they enter the workplace, they may expect success to come easy.


I once had an entry level employee I trained who was acceptable, but not great. When she finished her work, instead of asking me what to do next, she would sit at her desk and print things off the internet until I came looking for her. About six months into her tenure with the company, she asked for a raise. When I questioned her why she felt she deserved a raise, her rationale was that she showed up for work on time every day! Not being late deserved a raise in her book! However she was brought up, the bare minimum of how she SHOULD behave was enough to garner her applause.


No one wants a child to suffer. But early failure actually breeds resilience. Children learn how to succeed by practicing, and that practice sometimes yields success and it sometimes yields failure. Often, Millenials have been protected from their own failures by well-meaning parents and teachers, who thought they were producing a MORE psychologically strong generation, but might actually have been doing the opposite. If you work with a millennial, try to gently ease them into their first failure, because they won’t be prepared for it. Help them learn why showing up isn’t enough to earn a trophy.