80% of Managers Say Millennials are Narcissistic: And They Agree!

Key Takeaways:

  • Generation Y continues to be placed under the microscope as the rest of us try to understand what makes the country’s largest generation tick.

  • A recent study surveyed hiring managers across the country, and 80% of the respondents said Gen Y workers are more likely than Gen X to be “narcissistic” —and they agree.

  • Gen Y was also more likely to be “open to change”, “creative”, “adaptable”, and to have an “entrepreneurial attitude” —things that businesses need in order to innovate and remain competitive.

Before we get started … here’s why you won’t find the word “millennial” in this blog post.

People born between the early 1980’s and 2005 are now the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce.  Generation Y continues to be placed under the microscope as the rest of us try to understand what makes the country’s largest generation tick. As this age group comes to dominate the workforce, their preferences and attitudes are being felt across the board, and it’s changing what a desirable workplace looks like.

One recent study surveyed hiring managers across the country, and 80% of the respondents said that Gen Y workers are more likely than Gen X to be “narcissistic.”

Why would that be?

Open to change, creative, adaptable …

In other areas, the managers said that Gen Y was more likely to be “open to change”, “creative”, “adaptable”, and to have an “entrepreneurial attitude.” Interestingly, Gen Y’ers themselves who were also surveyed agreed with the managers’ views on these –including the narcissism. They felt that their generation was more likely to have all of these characteristics than Generation X. (Like myself)

So what’s behind this narcissism? Could it be that Gen Y is more apt to hold out for jobs that feel meaningful, that they care about, and where they feel supported and appreciated?  Could their interest in feedback be mistakenly seen instead as a need for validation? I would argue that there’s nothing wrong with being clear about what you need.

At any rate, most experts agree that a certain amount of narcissism is healthy. And, expert or not, we all have it to some degree —but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are levels. At the top range is Madoff who created a new world record in what narcissism means. On the other end of the scale is those who use narcissism for good.

It’s true that this generation has high expectations for the workplace. They want a collaborative environment with a company culture that fits their personal values. But guess what: so does everyone in the workforce. Just because other groups weren’t socialized the way Gen Y was, doesn't mean they don’t want it as well.

The experience with the constantly shifting world of digital tools and communication has made Gen Y’ers very adaptable. They play by a new set of rules, and their rules fit the world we live in.

A great piece in AdWeek last month holds that we should think of the Gen Y attitude as “empowered” rather than “entitled.” It reminds us that our new capabilities –email, mobile phones, sizzling-fast internet— give us more freedom in the workplace, and that’s a good thing. What this is teaching all of us is that change —although very hard for most of our population to deal with — will be the biggest we will all have to make to better collaborate in the workplace and make America great again. (ha, ha, ha!)

It’s nothing new to Gen Y —so yeah, they feel entitled to it.

Wireless connectivity and mobile phones empower us 24/7. Thus the tendency for Gen Y to favor working in various locations. No one needs to be tied to a desk. Their team likes to sit on the deck when they brainstorm. They write better-wearing headphones. They want a more flexible schedule. As long as the work gets done, why not? Team member engagement is what drives productivity.

Bringing uniqueness to the workplace

This study and others find that Gen Y offers unique skills, fresh ideas, adaptability and tech-savviness  —things that businesses need in order to innovate and remain competitive. Although clear contrasts exist between the prior generation and Generation Y, these are to be expected as the new generation reinvents what it means to be successful in a rapidly changing, technology-driven world.

It’s time to either get in the Ferrari and hold on … or sit on the sidelines and watch the cars go ‘round. Don’t become a dinosaur in the workplace!