Monday, April 6, 2009

I’ve Got 99 Problems and Motivation Ain’t One

My counterpart Phil wrote an article a couple months back entitled “How Do We Motivate Gen-Y.” He wrote the article in response to several poorly written articles about how to motivate Millennials. He offered some excellent alternative approaches about how to motivate a Gen-Y employee.

I want to take it one step further; why do so many professional articles offer advice on how to motivate Millennials? Yes the advice offered is usually a hodgepodge of overused corporate catchphrases, but why do so many experts think Millennials need an exorbitant amount of motivation?

If anything, I would consider most Millennials overly ambitious – products of our raising. Ron Alsop, author of The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaking Up the Workplace believes that we all just want a trophy for participating and need constant mothering from our bosses, I’m going to politely disagree, and actually provide the perspective of a Millennial.

While I may not be an “expert” like Ron Alsop, I (unlike him) actually happen to be a part of this demographic that he has under a microscope.

As a Millennial, I was raised as a “trophy kid” as Ron would label me. I got a trophy for participation. However contrary to Ron’s opinion, my success wasn’t solely defined by what place I took in a competition, but also by how many different activities I successfully competed/took part in. I didn’t just get a trophy for basketball, but also for baseball and soccer. While I wasn’t training for sports, I was active in Boy Scouts collecting merit badges like an inmate collects tattoos. When I wasn’t reciting the mantra “Be Prepared,” I was competing at the state level with the chess club. The list goes on and on.

But I’m not tooting my own horn, all of my peers led similar lives.

This mindset was only perpetuated in high school. Growing up being told “you can achieve anything you set your mind to,” we quickly realized that our resumes stacked up equally with everyone else’s. So we piled on Advanced Placement courses, language skills, leadership roles in clubs ad infinitum. We grew up being told we needed to be the best, and we spent our lives learning how to accomplish just that.

So when articles come out talking about how to motivate me as a Millennial, I get frustrated. When I see similar articles saying how Millennials are arrogant and think they can take over, I get even more frustrated.

I’ve got news for you, as a Millennial I don’t need fluffy motivational techniques. I’ve spent my life motivating myself past my peers. What I need is the motivation that’s found from being believed in as someone who CAN be successful and challenged accordingly. Millennials' personal drive should not be a threat to Corporate America, but an asset. Companies that can put stock in their youth and trust in Gen-Y’s personal drive have an invaluable leg-up on their competition.

I’ve got 99 problems Corporate America, and motivation ain’t one.

--Now let me clear my throat--

Josh Groth


Adam said...

I totally agree! Motivation is the last of my problems right now. Sometimes I struggle with what to now do since I currently don't have to juggle 20 different things like I'm used to. Great post!

Anonymous said...

It may be (to use a word from psychology_ projection. That is older people feel a need to be motivated, sometimes by others. Yet the people of Josh's generation seem to be a great bunch of self-starters. I can tell them what I want to have done - not how - and they are often willing to suggest a better "what" after understanding my "why."

As a boomer, I agree - for your gen and for me... trophies, given out in school did not necessarily relate to the world beyond it... meaning came from accomplishment as i saw it - and friends who were similarly motivated.

Your post here deserves wider distribution beyond this great blog... for more people of other generations to get the whole truth

TylerWalts said...

dood we should play some chess!

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