Jordan Furlong is a smart guy, even though he occasionally dabbles in Millennial pandering at the Puddle. So is he just trolling now?
Let’s start with a reality check. It’s kind of silly to talk about “the millennial generation” as if it’s some monolithic hive mind. If you’re setting out to describe the attributes of a demographic wave several hundred million people wide, then you’re going to over-generalize to the point of absurdity. So the first thing I want to acknowledge is that there are myriad exceptions to the broad strokes painted below.
It’s “silly,” so he’s going to do it anyway. Thanks, Gertrude.
The fundamental problem is that baby boomer lawyers (and to a lesser extent, gen-x lawyers like myself) keep trying to interpret the behavior of millennials through the lens of their own cultural assumptions and practices.
The fundamental problem with this sentence is that it’s nonsensical. Are older lawyers “trying to interpret” the younger lawyers who come to them for a job, who get a paycheck, who are there to do a job? Do we work for them or do they work for us? Interpret this: do your job or you’re fired.
But Jordan offers a different approach.
Here are corrections to some misconceptions you might have about millennials:
- Millennials aren’t entitled. They’re preternaturally confident in themselves because they were raised to have the utmost belief in their own abilities. Whether that confidence is justified is mostly beside the point. Millennials speak to their elders with a degree of self-possession and authority that their listeners can find off-putting: “Who are you to talk to me this way?” But that’s the way they are. You might as well complain that they walk about on two legs.
- Millennials aren’t lazy. They work very hard, in fact—but they won’t work stupid. They can figure out pretty quickly if a task is make-work, pointless, or counterproductive, and they’ll resist and resent your attempts to make them perform it. You might argue that Millennials don’t want to pay their dues, but that’s not true—they don’t want to pay your dues. They care not the slightest for how you made it in the world. And they’ll have difficulty being polite with you about that.
- Millennials aren’t disloyal. They’re peripatetic, and that’s a word you should get used to hearing. They move on quickly from roles and workplaces, primarily because there’s an astoundingly exciting world out there and they want to experience as much of it as they can. Oh, and they’ve seen their friends laid off from associate positions and watched partners jump laterally from firm to firm, so they won’t listen quietly to your lectures on “making a commitment to this firm.”
- Millennials aren’t slackers. They’re ambitious because they crave external praise and internal affirmation and they want to over-achieve to obtain these rewards. They do not subscribe to a linear model of responsibility and advancement: they believe that if you’re capable of doing something, you should do it, regardless of whether “it’s their job” or whether permission to try has been extended. They are very impatient for accomplishments and their subsequent payoffs.
Good one, Jordan. Please clean out your desk and the guards will escort you off the premises so that a Millennial who wants to work for his clients can use the space wasted on an entitled, lazy, disloyal slacker.