Millennials in the Workplace: Breaking the Millennial Mold
This is me at age 23. I found this photo about 6 months ago stashed in the back of a file cabinet. I remember that I couldn't stop staring at it. Not because I was being vain but because I couldn't get over the fact that this was taken almost 17 years ago. Random thoughts kept popping into my head from "where had the time gone" to "I wish I could get those eyebrows back" and "I still look like that...kind of". It was also what inspired me to write this post. Well at least the original version which was titled "Millennial Me". Sounds funny but I had basically written about whether or not the 23 year old me would have fit in with the 23 year olds of today. To be honest I'm not quite sure if I would have and here are just a few reasons why.
Millennials have been dubbed "Generation Me." And for good reason. While their attitude towards work is inherently optimistic unfortunately how they go about this comes across as demanding about when and how they actually do their job.
Their endless sense of entitlement and narcissistic nature is exhausting. They expect to be handed everything up front rather than work towards a goal like previous generations. Showing visible signs of disappointment and dissatisfaction within months of coming on board, millennials look for versatility and flexibility in the workplace hence the reason they switch jobs so frequently. Rather than focus on what they can offer you they are laser focused on what you can do for them.
My own personal experience with anyone between the ages of 21-30 in the workplace has nothing short of maddening. Whether it be their lack of motivation, work ethic, or expecting everything to be handed to them it's been bad, bad, bad. That was the case up until a few months ago but I'll get to that later.
And by no means am I exaggerating. Gone were the days of hard work, long hours and earning your keep. I was working along side of a generation of self centered assholes! With their addiction to praise and adverse reaction to discipline, they are quick to blame the employer and their job for their unhappiness.
Their short term employment is riddled with attendance issues, laziness, completion of simple tasks, difficulty dealing with management and being completely un-coachable. And let's not even talk about the constant belly aching; I'm tired, I don't feel well, It's cold outside, thank god the day's almost over, I can't wait to leave. Can someone please explain to me WHAT THE FUCK IS that is all about??? OK moving on.
Case in point. I once caught one of my assistants reading a restaurant menu at 10am. When questioned about what the hell she was doing she simply replied that she was trying to figure out what she wanted for lunch. AT 10AM!!!! On another occasion I had simply informed this same individual that they had shipped over a $1000 worth of product to the wrong location. And what happened next still shocks me to this day. They actually stood there and cried. CRIED! And then quit the next day. And finally there was one girl I hired that only lasted until lunch due to the fact that she had to walk up and down stairs to grab packing supplies.
So by now you're probably wondering what all of this has to do with me scrapping my original post. Well, allow me to explain.
As I had mentioned in one of my previous posts I recently started a new job. Upon accepting said job I was immediately put in charge of a project with which I had no previous experience or knowledge of. At the same exact time another person was also being thrown into the mix.
Now before I continue I want to preface this by saying that the person who I'm about to talk about will remain nameless. Not because he requested to be but because I wanted to protect his privacy and since gotten to know him outside of work he's become a good friend of mine.
So back to my story. I was happy to have another new person on the team but my happiness was short lived because I soon discovered that he had recently graduated from college (like 4 months prior recent). I remember thinking to myself, what could he possibly bring to the table, aside from the fact that he would be a nice distraction at our sometimes challenging weekly team meetings.
Well that question was quickly answered and boy did he make me eat my words. (at least the ones in my head). This individual who I had initially perceived as being young and inexperienced ended up adding more value than those on the team who were twice his age. And it wasn't because of some bullshit reason that he was young and wanted to prove himself. No, it was because he was knowledgeable, dedicated, enthusiastic and at times quite funny. Humor is a definitely a characteristic that should be adopted more often, especially in his line of work.
I would call him several times a day (and still do) and each and every time he was polite (and still is) something I'm afraid many have misplaced over the course of their careers. He quickly became my go-to person for any questions or concerns that I had after exhibiting both timely responses and following through. Let's just say it definitely caught me off guard at first because it wasn't anything anyone of his generation had exhibited that I've ever encountered in the past. There was a quiet confidence about him that made him not only approachable but trustworthy. Definitely another great quality to have.
I stopped thinking of him as just some "kid" out of college and someone I believed could actually get the job done. After each and every phone call I could hang up and know that whatever the task set before him, it would be completed without question. Or at least he would try which is more important to me at the end of the day because you can't always control the outcome and you certainly can't control other people.
This may seem like a strange point to make but I noticed he was always smiling. Not once did I hear him complain or become frustrated. And trust me when I say there were many, many times he could have lost his cool. That's not to say that he wasn't doing this privately but I never witnessed it. He was always professional but somwhow kept things light. I'm not sure if this was due to his age or just his nature but I found myself developing a better attitude towards work from just being around him.
I remember as the project inched closer and closer to d-day and my nerves were completely shot he sent me a text message that I'll never forget. It simply said, "Sleep easy, all is well". Strangely it was exactly what I had needed to hear in that very moment and I found myself finally letting out a breathe I had unknowingly been holding for the past 2 months. Let's just say I slept like a baby that night.
About a month has gone by and while we're still working out some kinks, the project is slowly coming to a close. I hate to admit this but I never could have done it without him. What could have been a complete disaster of a project has now become a subject of humor (well sort of).
I'm not the kind of person who likes to be proven wrong however in this case I was happy that I was.
And because I know you're reading this here's a quick note from me to you :)
I'm sure I've said it a million times already but thank you. Thank you for saving my sanity on more occasions than I'd like to admit. Thank you for your constant professionalism, dedication and support. But most importantly thank you for changing my mind and opening my eyes to possibilities that I didn't realize existed, even for someone as experienced and jaded as myself. Life is full of surprises and in the end, you ended up teaching me something instead of the other way around and I'll always be thankful for that.