I have been finding it interesting, and frustrating, that young, bright, qualified employees in the workplace lack common sense.
I cannot fault their ability to learn from books, or the degree that have studiously earned. But they enter the workplace with a lack of common sense: the ability to perceive, understand and judge things that are shared by nearly all people, hence surely common sense.
Millennials (and can I remind you this means people between the ages of 22 and 35) are genuine achievers when it comes to structured classroom knowledge. But when it comes to basic life skills, let’s be honest, we are often astonished by how little Millennials know. I mean, by the time I was 20 years old, I was able to change a light bulb, change a tyre, cook a decent meal, and find my way around the UK without a cell phone to call home for help or use Google Maps.
Being forced to be independent taught me common sense. It taught me how to perceive the life around me, and to understand how things worked. And taking these skills into the workforce means that I was able to use my initiative and not have to rely on my superiors for help on menial tasks, let alone instructions all the time.
Millennials, on the other hand, would rather call a handyman or stop off at the nearest Woolies (which is why the majority don’t own homes as yet). They have been raised with technology, believing they really can make an immediate difference in the world. And while this gives them a sense of ingenuity, it is definitely not common sense. They seem to lack the ability to see how their actions, or inactions, affect other people: if I say this who will it offend? or situations: if I wear this outfit to this meeting, will it be appropriate?
I am aware that we should view Millennials differently, as I know they have been brought up differently to the way we (majority of leadership) were brought up but does this mean we should just accept the fact that they think attending a client event in fashionable ripped jeans and a Quicksilver belt is acceptable business attire. Or ignore the use of entitled language they use when dealing with colleagues and clients? Or accept that being proactive is just not part of their DNA? I don’t think so.
I am not sure what the solution is, as the workforce I am talking about are qualified, have many years work experience and are well paid. Even if we were clearer in expectations, would that force common sense?
I can only encourage Millennials to learn common sense by becoming more aware of what is socially acceptable across all ages and levels, and to learn to interact with society in a way that is appropriate and respectful.