Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Millenials To Meet Real Life?

About 2 months ago, I read this Wall Street Journal editorial on "millenials" or kids born between 1980 and 2001. As I look at what is going on today in our political climate (see this previous post or google/youtube "Henrietta Hughes" or "Julio Osegueda"), I think this editorial sheds light on how we might have gotten there. The first paragraph of the main article is VERY telling:

  • "When Gretchen Neels, a Boston-based consultant, was coaching a group of college students for job interviews, she asked them how they believe employers view them. She gave them a clue, telling them that the word she was looking for begins with the letter 'e.' One young man shouted out, 'excellent.' Other students chimed in with 'enthusiastic' and 'energetic.' Not even close. The correct answer, she said, is 'entitled.' 'Huh?' the students responded, surprised and even hurt to think that managers are offended by their highfalutin opinions of themselves."

These students believed that someone who was meeting them for the first time had as high of opinion of them as their parents. To me, the real issue is that these young people entering the workplace expected (think they were entitled, maybe?) to have their jobs shaped to fit into a convenient box in their lives.

I think that the school of hard knocks is in store now that we are facing the worst economic conditions since the recession of the early 1980's (Don't be fooled by the "since the Great Depression" talk. We have seen this cycle in my lifetime.). I have a feeling that employers may use these lean times to rid their workplaces of the millenials who don't complete assignments because the manager or co-workers "didn't remind me." Here is a true recipe for disaster:

  • "Millennials also want things spelled out clearly. Many flounder without precise guidelines but thrive in structured situations that provide clearly defined rules and the order that they crave. Managers will need to give step-by-step directions for handling everything from projects to voice-mail messages to client meetings. It may seem obvious that employees should show up on time, limit lunchtime to an hour and turn off cellphones during meetings. But those basics aren't necessarily apparent to many millennials."

Until these basics become apparent, I predict that many will be living in their basements with their parents. As the article points out, the managers of these unmanageables are the results of the managers' own style of parenting. These indulgent parents are dealing with those indulged children in the workplace.

Ahh, the irony of baby boomers paying the piper for some of the problems they have caused. I guess there are good things that come out of hard economic times.


Josh and Margo said...

I think I need to introduce you to some millenials (aka me and my friends) and then see what you think.

Russ said...


I think you missed the operative "until these basics become apparent". I am sure that you have some classmates (not friends) from the U of A that are living at home. I guess I am a equal opportunity offender, though.

Josh and Margo said...

It is interesting that you posted about this last night and today in my leadership training class we talked about the different generations of people and the good and bad characteristics of each. I will have to show you the info sometime. I did find out that I am a "cusper" because I am kind of between the generation x and generation y (millenials), and I have characteristics of each.

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