Jul 062014

I frequently hear the comment that Millennials are entitled. Sometimes I hear it as a question, “Why do Millennials feel so entitled?” Baby Boomers ask, Generation Xers ask, and Millennials have accepted the fact that everyone thinks they are entitled. Millennials will either try to answer it, rationalize it, or just ignore it.

The answers to this question are all over the place depending on the perspective and the current hot button of the person answering. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers lean more toward explaining that this newest generation in the workforce is lazy, spoiled, and their helicopter parents overindulged them so they expect the world to be handed to them once they finish college or reach semi-adulthood if they decide they don’t need to finish college.

The answers from Millennials are a lot different because they don’t have a universal concept of what that means. I’m not sure they really feel entitled, it’s more that they have been convinced by everyone else saying it so they defend it or accept it. For example, they are often said to be entitled because many of them moved back home after college. In most cases it’s not because they want to, it’s because the job market is so bad and living with their parents is better than being homeless. They didn’t go to college with the plan of returning home.

One Millennial told me that entitlement was all about social media. When they are on social media sites and see what their peers have, they feel the need to have the same things. That gives them a sense of feeling entitled to be like others in their generation so they get out their credit cards and go shopping or book a trip to some exotic location. There is a lot of peer pressure.

Another Millennial said it was about opportunity. This generation feels they should have the opportunity to do what they want to do. It’s not entitlement, it’s the way things are today. Because of technology, an entrepreneur of any age can start a company and become a huge success. They don’t feel it is limited to Millennials but since they are optimistic, fearless, and don’t yet have responsibilities like mortgages and families to support, they are taking advantage of the opportunity. That’s not entitlement.

And then there’s collaboration. This generation was taught to work in teams and to ask questions. When they get into a work environment and try it, they are criticized for asking too many questions and not respecting authority at work. They think they are respecting authority because they are going to people with authority to ask for their valued advice, as they were taught to do in school. When did the rules change and who informed them? Older people call them entitled and bold for thinking they can go straight to the most knowledgeable person in the organization to get the answer they need. It certainly saves them a lot of time asking the people who don’t know.

Entitlement really has a lot to do with your perspective and I’m sure I will have more to say about this subject.

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