LIFE LESSONS – Paradoxically Millennial 0

Paradoxically Millennial
What is it like to be a millennial in the workforce? How do you mingle with the other generations at the workplace? In this interesting article, Sahil Nayar takes us through his quirky journey of curating and developing a new course – managing millennials and multigenerational workforce – and teaching it on college campuses, and how in the process of teaching, he ends up learning new things himself.

Mumbai – Sometime in December 2018, on a cold Sunday evening, as I snuggled into my Jaipuria quilt enjoying the nip in the air, I decided to binge-watch a series. I had just got started and a professor friend of mine from IIM Indore called up. Lazy that I felt to get up from the bed to get across to my desk where the phone was kept on charging, I was in two minds as to whether I should let the phone ring or pick it up. After about five to six rings when it continued to ring, I jumped out of bed as if I didn’t want to miss the call and ensure that I pick it up before the phone gets cut.

After exchanging pleasantries, the conversation moved to the weather and I shared with him how cold I was feeling when the temperature was 19 degrees. He laughed and retorted, “Come over to Indore buddy! It’s 9 degrees and you will surely freeze in here”. We moved ahead into the conversation, he invited me to teach his students a 2-credit course on Organizational Behavior. Having taught the subject for over a decade, deep within I was feeling just too bored to commit my time to this course. Not sure if it was the weather, my mood at that point in time, or the subject.

Paradoxically Millennial 2

Over the last few weeks, I was reading a lot of white papers and research work around millennials and had moderated a multigenerational industry panel on managing millennials at the workplace. I promptly offered, “Why don’t I teach your students something new – something that hasn’t been part of their curriculum ever – managing millennials and multi-generational workforce”– Guess what! He jumped at the idea.

The next few hours, as the Jaipuria quilt felt lonely, I sat at my study, curating the course description, objectives and pedagogy. I had no previous course outline to refer to as a benchmark – the thrill of going back to my own experiences and those in my ecosystem made me think. It was a magical experience, not just curating the content but delivering the same on campus as well.

As this course became popular among the student fraternity, I started teaching the same at other leading business schools across the country as well. Interactions with the students, all being millennials, helped me refine the modules further. A classical situation, the professor, a millennial, the students’ millennials and the frameworks within which the course needed to be delivered and administered wasn’t governed by millennials!

3 years and 9 batches down, every class has offered a different perspective. From challenging the basic stereotypes, like ‘why purpose is so important’ which many didn’t even comprehend to many being cynical optimists. From exploring why filters are so important on Instagram to what makes millennials cry – not only did we validate research that existed but also over the years, identified trends that showed up in reality-based simulations in the classroom.

Every course with every batch brought me closer to a bunch of students born a year later. It kept getting better. 3 years and 9 batches down, every class has offered a different perspective. From challenging the basic stereotypes, like ‘why purpose is so important’ which many didn’t even comprehend to many being cynical optimists. From exploring why filters are so important on Instagram to what makes millennials cry – not only did we validate research that existed but also over the years, identified trends that showed up in reality-based simulations in the classroom.

Also Read:  How to Manage and Support a Grieving Employee

While commitment didn’t exist in relationships, surprisingly even if we slept at 5 am the previous night experimenting with lab rats in the hostels, the majority of us showed up for the 8 am class which we all detested. Our contradictions and complications didn’t freak us out but instead left us in appreciation of the fact – that coexistence is the name of the game.

Paradoxically Millennial 3

Some in the class were tough nuts to crack and like how! But I didn’t take it upon myself to fix them or should I say manage them? I simply let them be and in the process of being so, the class took over and they fell in line. Some were impenetrable and some intriguing – those were the ones who had special classes with me, almost like private tuitions into twilight.

All of us, without exception, including me, got distracted, and how! It felt so relatable and real. No monologues, no ‘gyan’, no one could speak beyond three minutes at a stretch. That really helped break the monotony.

In the process of teaching, I must admit, I learned too. The course pedagogy postCovid has undergone a significant change – from managing we have moved to empower millennials. They love the spotlight on themselves, don’t they? Trust them and let them deliver.

Paradoxically Millennial 4

Many in the classes over the years, knew exactly what they wanted. Even what they wanted to discuss in detail and what they wanted to fast forward because they could get it. At times, I thought it was boredom but when tested on quizzes and midterm tests, they would complete the sentences we left incomplete in the class. It was just so magical.

While the timing of the class had a huge role to play in retention – we also explored the direct correlation between absorption of knowledge and the body clock movements. The first benchers in the first class of the morning were very different from the first benchers when the sun went down, and the stars came out. Some behaviours had rationales and some behaviours defied logic but none of us questioned one another. We simply observed without judging.

Transparency touched new highs, they set their own question papers and peers evaluated them too. Biases took centre stage and favourites were clearly visible. Initially one would think that as a clan they would be loyal to one another with me as the professor being an outsider, but with time, one realized that they were loyal to no one, but themselves. Interesting revelations, I must say!

In the process of teaching, I must admit, I learned too. The course pedagogy post-Covid has undergone a significant change – from managing we have moved to empower millennials. They love the spotlight on themselves, don’t they? Trust them and let them deliver. Of course, they have a width of exposure on their side, offering them depth.

Also Read:  Mission Mangal: Lessons For Leaders On Planet Earth

Did I just contradict myself? As I concluded my class with the batch of 2019-2021 one of them remarked, “Sahil, just because you are born in the time frame that demarcates you as a millennial, it doesn’t mean you are one” This is a student supposedly speaking to his professor (that’s me) in the same tonality because I have given them this liberty from the first class.

In a very humble tone, I asked, “Please, may you elaborate?”

He laughs, the rest join in, and a video comes with each of their virtual backgrounds reflecting my photograph and in a chorus, they say, “Which millennial celebrates 10 years in one organization?”

You surely aren’t a millennial!!!

As things are starting to get back to normal, I’m waiting to jump onto the next flight, go on campus only to do all that those millennials do. Oh boy! I bet you, kids out there, for some of the things that you still do on campus I will surely give you a run for your money, even if it means proving what a narcissistic millennial I am.

Transparency touched new highs, they set their own question papers and peers evaluated them too. Biases took centre stage and favourites were clearly visible. Initially one would think that as a clan they would be loyal to one another with me as the professor being an outsider, but with time, one realized that they were loyal to no one, but themselves.

Interesting revelations, I must say!

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

We share newer articles, exclusive interviews, event updates, eBooks & lots more from the world of HR straight to your inbox.

Previous ArticleNext Article
Avatar
Senior Associate Director – HR at KPMG, is a Human Resource Professional whose forte is building an Employer Brand that helps attract and leverage relevant talent. Mondays through Fridays are about driving the entire employee life cycle with exposure to the finer nuances of human resources and it's functioning in a growing and evolving organization. Weekends are more about traversing treacherous roads over various genres of music.

Leave a Reply

More in Magazine
Return to Work Strategy after COVID-19
COVER STORY – Return to Work Strategy after COVID-19

As employees return to the office, organizations face new challenges of adhering to state guidelines and reopening plans while making …

Close