“It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission”. This is a philosophy that was not created by millennials but sure seems to apply to the millennial mindset.
How many of you remember permission slips? When I was growing up, I remember having to get a permission slip signed by a parent or guardian before we could go on a field trip or some other off site fun activity. The activity was usually something new, fun and exciting. The basic premise of the “permission slip” was to ensure that you received permission from someone of higher authority than you before you engage or participate in an activity.
The concept of a “permission slip” does not go over so well with millennials in today’s workplace.
Millennials often find themselves in a position at work that requires them to get permission or approval from a Generation X or Baby Boomer superior in order to pull off certain maneuvers to bring their concept to life. Permission is typically required because there is usually some risk involved.
Millennials take risks. Some risks more calculated than others but this is not a generation that is known to be risk averse. If millennials believe that his or her desired actions will benefit their career and deliver against the expressed goals of the organization, then they don’t understand why you would tell them “no”. But they often expect to hear “no”. The thinking then becomes that the best way to prevent you from having to say “no” and to save them the frustration of hearing the “no”, it simply benefits everyone involved for them to just forge ahead.
Millennials understand that once the request is made and they receive the anticipated denial, that still proceeding after that is blatant defiance. That is not the desired goal or reputation they are looking for. The alternative has become the adoption of the “forgiveness versus permission” philosophy.
Millennials want to win. We all want to win. Lets help millennials win and make it easier for them to help the entire organization win. Let’s restore the power and excitement that was once associated with the permission slip. The permission slip once represented an indication that there was something exciting and fun in store for the recipient. You looked forward to sharing the permission slip and explaining what it was for.
We can encourage “permission seeking” and discourage “forgiveness begging” by applying these three simple rules.
1. Create a culture that encourages and welcomes “field trips”; new and innovative out of the box and out of the office thinking
2. Create a culture that focuses more on what can be done than what cant be done.
3. Create a culture that explores creative ways to get to a yes instead of fostering a culture that expects a “no!”