Just before the great recession of 2007, not a day went by without some calling for “work/life balance.” That was the complaint that expectations stemming from being paid too much were interfering with Millennials’ God-given right to enjoy themselves and have a seat at the bar for happy hour. Then jobs disappeared and the only seat they could afford was on mommy’s couch in the basement.
Is it back? At What About Clients?, Dan Hull gets teary eyed for Justin’s needs.
Read or skim in Entrepreneur this month the article “This Is How Millennials Want to Be Managed“. It’s a “happy workplace” piece and you can get its gist and message in a flash. We’ve all seen them before.
Finish it? Good. Thanks for reading. At the risk of sounding old, mean and cranky, let me make two quick comments.
So the Slackoisie got jobs, and they’re back to demanding that the world revolve around them? Some dope started, built and succeeded in creating a business, only to be told by some happiness consultant its survival depends on adapting the business to meet the feelings of its newest hire?
Tammy Erickson, author of Plugged In: The Generation Y Guide to Thriving at Work and an executive fellow at the London Business School, co-directs a leadership program for senior executives. “I’d say 90 percent of the Gen X managers I work with are exasperated by Millennials,’’ she says. “They say, ‘I had to wait my turn; you need to wait yours. I had to follow rules. So do you. You’re asking for something quite different than what I had to go through.’”
Either she works with morons, or she’s created a strawman for the benefit of morons. We’ve heard the lies they tell themselves before.
Nobody, not even Gen X managers. says kids have to wait a week or two to get the corner office and billion dollar salary just because they did. They do, on the other hand, tell them they have to wait because they don’t deserve it yet because they aren’t competent. Same thing, Tammy?
“Most people think the problem would be a 52-year-old who can’t relate to a 24-year-old employee, but that’s not typical,” she adds. “The biggest friction is with the 35-year-old Gen X middle manager who resents the whiney Millennial who needs hand-holding.”
So Tammy, is the answer to bend to Justin’s whiney will? Would the babies still buy the iPhone if it didn’t work, but every kid with two weeks tenure was a senior VP making big bucks? Hull says not likely, and offers his solution.
a. Get off your knees, you guys.
b. Ignore well-meaning writers and consultants who would have you manage people based [on] a north star or “trend” other then your own vision and instincts.
c. Employees are important but they are “third”–after customers (#1) and the company or division you’re managing or building (#2) to serve them. In service professions, clients are more important than any employee–and more important than the firm or company itself.
Tammy’s assumption is that there is no way around the slackoisie, so we must capitulate to their demands. When Justin says “jump,” his boss must ask “how high?” While Tammy is right that it’s not easy, she focuses on the wrong task.
The trick isn’t to succumb to the slackers’ demands, but to identify the Millennials who aren’t slackers, the ones who want to work, want to do well, understand that the world wasn’t created for the sole purpose of making them happy.
They are out there. Granted, they can be hard to find, as so many of them present as self-proclaimed geniuses who know everything despite never having accomplished anything. But they’re there. I’ve met them. Hull’s met them. They exist.
How can you tell one from the other? Feedback is a dead giveaway.
But for Millennials, “feedback is getting a tip. It’s coaching, and they want it multiple times a day.”
Because their boss has no work to do, and can spend all day holding their hand.
“The biggest complaint from Millennials about managers that I hear is, ‘My boss cancels my one-on-ones all the time,’” Orrell says. “They conclude, ‘Oh well, he doesn’t value my time.’ And the No. 1 reason Millennials leave companies is that they don’t feel valued or respected.”
Why do they want “one-on-ones”? So you can tell them how fabulous they are and give them a vigorous tummy rub with their new official title. Hull, cranky guy that he is, disapproves.
I’ve been through the “we work better with constant feedback” thing with younger employees over and over again. Nearly 90% of the time–not all of the time but most of the time–that request means something quite different. It means that the requesting employees would like constant kudos and encouragement–think happy drumbeat or cheerleading–without negative criticism.
If you happened to notice one theme that runs throughout, it’s this expectation that life will only drop little turds of happy on their delightfully coiffed heads. It’s not that big boys and girls don’t want to be happy, but that happy isn’t a constant and is something earned rather than owed.
They’re out there. Millennials have been ruined by their helicopter moms telling them that their poopy smells like roses and teachers fearful of harshing their fee-fees. But if they want a seat at the conference table instead of the couch in the basement, they’re going to have to put down the ducky and grow up. Fortunately, I’m deeply encouraged by how many Millennials have learned this lesson. But not all.