This is the first of a number of posts that I will do regarding executives who are under thirty. They are different from their older compatriots. They have different needs and different attitudes than the people they work for. It really is a whole new world.
A few weeks ago, a twenty-something person came to my office. I had been calling her for several weeks. She told me she hated her job, didn’t like the people she worked for, but loved advertising. As I interviewed her, I realized that she was successful, doing well financially and had been recognized by her management. What was wrong with the picture? I asked her why it had taken me more than half a dozen calls and as many emails to get her to come in. Her reply, typical of millennials, “You know how it is, I am busy. And I figured that if it was important you would call back.” I went on to ask her why, if she was unhappy, she would not have called back quickly, even if she called well after hours and got my voice mail. She had no real response.
And therein lies the problem. The millennials are different than you and I, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald. For the most part, thy have a sense of entitlement, a sense that things should come to them. This causes them to be somewhat unresponsive. They object to having to work fourteen hour days. They think that working weekends is a crock. They believe that they are underpaid but are not willing as their predecessors have been to pay their dues.
What is different about them, is that during the first ten years of their working career, they have shown very little propensity for change. This means that as they become older and are in a position where they start to become management, they may make changes and improvements in the way they conduct business. We have to be aware of this and watch them carefully because their thinking will is different. It may be good for all of us.
On the other hand, and in the meantime, we will have to learn to accommodate them. If they are stroked, complimented and recognized, they may end up being great performers. While we do that, they are going to have to learn that they have to pay their dues, work hard (and late) and be underpaid until they mature into more senior executives.
We have to learn that they don’t return calls, so that if we want to speak to them, we will have to pursue them diligently. Texting is better than email and emails are better than calls. Nevertheless, they need to learn that they can advance their careers by returning messages, working late and paying dues.
In the end, everything will even out. But it is a two way street.