Millennials – Do We Really Feel Entitled?

Millennials, also known as “Generation Me” by Time magazine

[1], are labeled as a lazy cohort of entitled and narcissistic individuals. But we are not the only generation with these stereotypes. The Baby Boomers were also considered so self-absorbed that the writer, Tom Wolfe[2], dubbed the 1970s the “Me Decade”. Generation X was considered to have so little interest in working hard that they were labeled as “slackers2”. Now it is the Millennial’s turn. I will not claim that Millennials do not feel entitled, however, I will try to clarify why Millennials come across as entitled.

According to Time magazine, Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a study showed 40% of Millennials believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance1. Some older workers view millennials as ladder climbers—a sect of entry-level employees who want to make it into a corner office without paying their dues. The belief of ladder climber may have also been originated from how the traditional hierarchy in many industries has faded over time. Millennials don’t believe in hierarchy.

Helicopter parenting has given the older generation an impression that millennial workers need constant positive reinforcement. When in reality Millennials are simply accustomed to getting more frequent feedback. We want constructive criticism on a consistent basis and we are not just looking for praise. The feedback is a way for Millennials to learn and grow on the job by being told what we did well and not long after we have completed a task or a project in the workplace.

The Millennial generation was raised to be self-confident and built up with constant affirmations such as participation trophies. Boomer parents constantly coached us to ask for what we want and be what we want. We are the generation that wants to work at a job we love, where we know we can make a difference. We value creativity and meaning in our work, so the ability to buy a house and car is not our immediate goal. That’s where the sense of self-confidence comes from. The problem is that self-confidence can be misread as entitlement.

So, there is data to prove that Millennials are entitled and some of us actually do think that we are entitled, but a generation’s greatness cannot be determined by data. We have our shortfalls. Would we have liked fewer participation trophies and more experience in failure? Maybe, but that does not mean we would not like constructive feedback. We are hungrier and more educated than any generation in history, and we understand technology. Our world is flat and more connected, in this world we have no leaders. So, we are not afraid to reach out to our superiors requesting projects or other work. As a reminder, no one likes to be labeled or be classified into one category because it suggests that individuals are worth no more than their age and their environment. No one generation is perfect.





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