Rotary Whisperer

Chris Tuff, author of “The Millennial Whisperer,” speaks about his book at the May 16 Roswell Rotary Club meeting at Roswell Area Park.

ROSWELL, Ga. — Millennials are expected to soon become the largest generation in the workforce and can no longer be ignored, according to Chris Tuff, author of “The Millennial Whisperer.”

It’s crucial that employers learn how to work with and motivate millennials effectively, he added.

Tuff, a partner at advertising agency 22squared in Atlanta, spoke at the May 16 Roswell Rotary Club at Roswell Area Park to dispel some of the myths about millennials and the millennial mindset. 

“Life needs to be a ruthless pursuit of passions,” Tuff said. “And what we need more than anything else is more empathy from our corporations and lives, and more person-to-person connection. And I am here to tell you that there is hope. Not only that — I think this is one of the best generations to come along.”

The idea for Tuff’s book was born about two years ago after he had hit his rock bottom and went on an executive retreat. The book that came from a conversation at that retreat provides a profit-focused playbook for working with and motivating millennials.

And one of the first ways to do so, Tuff said, is to realize the stereotype that millennials are entitled, self-absorbed and lazy is a myth. 

“With a few small tweaks, this is the best generation I’ve ever worked with,” Tuff said. “Not only that, I think there are a few little things we can put into place that will change everything.”

Tuff added that it’s useful to think of millennial as a mindset, one that wants different goals out of today’s workplace.

The No. 1 want is financial rewards and benefits, which is no different from baby boomers and Gen X, Tuff said.

It’s the other wants that are new.

According to Tuff, what matters most to millennials in the workplace are a positive work culture, flexibility and opportunities for continuous learning. In leaders, millennials seek inspirational leadership, autonomy, constant feedback and transparency.

Tuff shared a few strategies he outlined in his book and regularly uses in his workplace to reach those goals. 

“One thing we’ve got to stop doing — and we are all guilty of this — is comparing our insides to other people’s outsides,” Tuff said. “It’s why I’ve come up with what I call my 70/30 rule. It’s something that I instill in every single employee’s head. And that is that 30 percent of life is hard. Thirty percent of your job sucks. But 70 percent of your job should fuel you up and fire you up.

Tuff added that it’s important to recognize employees’ work and improvements to help motivate them, retain them and create a positive work culture. It can be especially useful when providing effective feedback and critiques.

And although it might sound counterintuitive, Tuff said it’s important for employers to support their employees’ non-competitive side hustles. It helps fuel employees’ passions and makes them less likely to quit to pursue a side hustle full time.

It’s because millennials want and pursue purpose, he said.

“If your company does not stand for something bigger than just your bottom line or a stock price, then you’ve got to revisit it,” Tuff said. “Because, especially the younger millennials and as we go into Generation Z, they are looking for purpose over everything else.”

For more information about Tuff’s book, visit themillennialwhisperer.com.

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