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"The problem with young people is . . ." Let's talk about the generation gap in your Digital Agency

By Clodagh S. Higgins - December 20, 2018


Millennials at WorkI am not able to count the amount of times I have had Digital Agency owners say to me . . . "the youth of today  . . . " followed by a list of perceived problems that they feel they have their their team ranging from punctuality, work ethics and communication flaws. The list is endless. Yes there are differences between the generations but instead of fighting it we can harness these nuances and learn to work better, together.

Typical phrases go along the following lines . . .

“They just don’t seem to be as hungry as I was at their age”

“They don’t have any patience”

“ Why don’t they come and talk to me instead of message/email/text?”

Some of these concerns can be figured out when you appreciate the relationship between entrepreneurs and employees however often times the differences are due to younger people having a very different upbringing to those of us 40+ that we both need to appreciate.

Firstly millennials grew up with smart phones phones and the internet which has given them reliance on technology to communicate in their personal relationships, they could ask someone out and break up with them, all via a text message or Snapchat video. Communicating through a screen is much easier than in real life, to them and when this is built up over time, relying on communication via a screen, some people feel uncomfortable having a discussion with another person in real life.

We have to help this generation to be comfortable with uncomfortable conversations. How this can manifest in an agency is that a junior account manager has been asked to add out of scope work to the monthly work by a client that you are working with. Because some millennials are not familiar with being able to say “no” they say yes and end up doing the work in their own time or blow out the billable time for your agency and you end up footing the bill.

A good idea here is to either invite a communication expert into do some training with the team, or you can set up a series of lunch and learn talks on video and practise some role plays with each other based on conversations people have had in the past that they found difficult.

In relation to the area of patience as Gen X’ers and or Baby Boomers we used to have to wait week to week to watch an episode of our favourite TV show, if we wanted to learn something we had to go to the library and get a book on the topic and read or study it. If we wanted to speak to someone we would phone them and have a conversation generally in daylight hours, Monday to Friday unless it was a personal relationship.

This is not the case for the younger generation, they have grown up being able to stream their favourite shows anytime they want to either legally or illegally. If they want to learn something they could YouTube any subject any time day or night. And if they want to contact someone they could email, text/message 24/7 any day of the week.

So please do not roll your eyes and say that the younger generation has no patience, it is not their fault, they rarely had to wait for anything. Instead embrace the way they are quick to jump into new technology and learn how it works. 

Another point to remember is that growing up Millennials would get prizes for 7th place or even prizes for everyone competing in school competitions. This was not the case for us oldies, there was 1st 2nd and 3rd prizes and the rest of us were not winners, we got comfortable with losing in small doses throughout the course of our lives. For younger people they are used to being rewarded for small tasks on a frequent basis and we can set things up in our agencies to harness this need to progress by having career plans and promotional paths for your team. These are vital to keep your team engaged and motivated to stay with your agency for longer.

This is an excerpt from my book - A Happy & Healthy Digital Agency - available on Kindle or Paperback on Amazon. 

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Drop me a line if you have any more tips on working with millennials that have worked in your agency -

Take care, chat soon,



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