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Are Millennials troublesome team players?

Posted by Huy Tran on

Previously, we asked you “How to recruit the most effective team consisting of young, energetic people?” Hope that you have your own answer to this question. In fact, we have been asked so multiple times and as we observe, Assessment Centre is the answer for many organisations, especially those running Management Trainee Recruitment. But what are you truly looking for in this activity? By teaming up the candidates and having them solve a business case together? If you are looking for potential team leaders, then…who will be their followers? This particular problem especially happens a lot to Millennial generation: they want to claim the leader title, so a team with members of this type would go nowhere.


Just in the past few years, the frequency of teamwork and collaboration activities at work has doubled, urging organisations to find people with good teamwork skill. Ironically, “lack of teamwork skill” is among the most common complaint about their young candidates. But since more and more young people are entering labour market, it’s time that they and even the employers identify and tackle the factors that makes teamwork less thrilling but more challenging for themselves.

Nobody is naturally a good team player. What decides is not only their core behaviours but the environment around them. Therefore, don’t be hustle to blame Millennials for being cocky individualists that do not even bother to collaborate. Instead, there might be both internal and external factors that have impact on their performance in team.

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Generation gap

This scenario must have become popular.

Son/Daughter: You don’t understand me at all.

Parents: At my times, we never act like that.

Son/Daughter: That’s too old-school already! These days, you have to do that way.

Such a typical evidence of generation gap – the difference in opinions among generations. Growing up in totally different situation makes generations distinguished from each other in terms of values, beliefs or even interests. And this gap easily leads to tension within family whenever the differences are brought up. It happens the same in business scene. Millennials might occupy 40% of the current global workforce, but there are other generations who grow up in totally different eras. A variety of generations working under the same roof with distinct workplace expectations and priorities leads to stereotyping the other cohorts and provoking conflicts. For sure in a multi-generational team, the younger members are frustrmillennial-and-manager.pngated at the older ones as they protest all new ways of thinking and only stick with the traditional methods. Meanwhile, the older get tired of the stubborn and impulsive Millennials for ignoring rules and regulations. Eventually, every team discussion becomes a battle and no positive result is produced.

Lack of teamwork skill

Bitter but true, although being highly evaluated in terms of thinking ability, Vietnamese Millennials are struggling to find jobs. According to employers, it was because some of the graduates’ soft skills are not up to their expectation. Unsurprisingly, teamwork skill is among the list. With classes and extra activities at university, Vietnamese young people have got many chances to work in teams and some even deliver excellent results in both member and leader position. Yet their performance fails in real working environment. And regardless of their previous performance, they are deemed “lack of teamwork skill”. It’s easy to give such comments, but have you ever wondered what exactly teamwork skill is?  Such an unusual question, isn’t it? But one should be noted that teamwork skill is different from team leading skill. If you want your young generation to be leaders without knowing how to work effectively as a team member, you are building your house from the roof.

As seen, these two factors either accidentally or intentionally turn the young into troublesome team players. But we can’t just avoid establishing multi-generational teams or ignore the inconsistency in Millennials’ performance in team. It’s time to re-evaluate your current team to timely find out if yours also experiences the same trouble. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts about how to overcome these two obstacles below and we will come back next week with our suggested solutions.

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Topics: Talent Management

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 Rick Yvanovich
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