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Managing Millennials: Three Real World Parables

· Jeremy Boudinet · 5 Minute Read

Here are 3 true stories about millennial colleagues of mine I hope you'll find to be revealing, insightful and at times humorous glimpses into what makes the millennial workforce tick.

Managing Millennials: Three Real-Life Parables

These three stories, in a nutshell, are microcosms of greater trends amongst the millennial workforce:

  1. Lack of direction and discipline.
  2. Frustration with coaching, training and professional development.
  3. Desire for passion about our product/service, company and role.

Scores of nodding, pissed-off Boomer and Gen-X managers agree.

True Story #1

Fresh out of college, a Millennial colleague of mine got an interview with a prominent local advertising firm. His friend, then a current-intern with the company, vouched for Mr. Millennial as a solid candidate for an entry level Ad Exec position. All parties were optimistic. Then the interview happened.

Twenty minutes in, everything’s going smoothly, when the recruiter asks our friend: “What’s your biggest professional weakness?” Mr. Millennial stared thoughtfully for a moment, before uttering, “Consistency. Sometimes I’m there, and sometimes I’m not.” The interview ended abruptly shortly thereafter.

My colleague didn’t get an offer, but to his credit, he did tell the truth. One that applies to a large swath of the largest workforce demographic in America.  And should any Boomer out there mock him for lack of expediency, you first need to answer for the staggering callowness of this year's Presidential candidates. At least Mr. Millennial tells it like it is. 

True Story #2

Another old college buddy of mine paid me a visit a few weeks ago.

We talked about our jobs for a while. He'd spent now more than 3 years at his current company - his first out of college - and when pressed about his satisfaction with his current role, he confessed: “I’m not happy. Last week, my boss (middle-aged, ex-Navy) yelled at me because a girl I manage wouldn’t get off her cell phone during her shift. I didn’t graduate college to become a professional hall monitor.”

Go on, I urged him.

“The real problem is, one, this guy is a big-time yeller -- which is something I don’t respond to. He pulled me into his office the other day and berated me because my team hadn’t moved our outdoor equipment into its proper staging area when a thunderstorm hit.

I asked him, ‘Okay, what should I have done differently?’ ‘LEAD THEM!!’”

But like many managers out there, my colleague's boss hadn't done a thing to teach him how to lead his Millennial peers. And my buddy not only had no prior leadership, he detested the responsibilities that consisted "leadership" in that particular role. 

Worst of all, he also saw a ceiling lowering on his growth potential within that particular company.

Three works after our visit, my buddy texted me and let me know he'd put in his two weeks notice. After 3+ years, he was leaving the company. 

True Story #3

A close female colleague of mine, another Advertising Executive, got a well-paying job providing marketing and advertising services for casinos. She was already a model of professional excellence by the time she entered the workforce. Industrious, driven, charming and incredibly sharp on her feet, she was every employer’s dream.

There was just one problem: She had zero passion for her key professional objective - help casinos lure more gamblers into their gaming halls. When a similar opportunity with Facebook opened up, she couldn’t apply fast enough, and is now much happier helping businesses excel in their social media marketing efforts.

Like Don Draper swearing off the tobacco industry, the move was also a savvy one for Ms. Millennial's career. She's thinking about the future, digital marketing, as opposed to the past, digital billboards. Facebook’s office, by the way, has its own bar. The previous employer didn’t stand a chance.

Help Save the Millennials

These are just three of thousands upon thousands more true stories impacting the workplace. Millennials can be a difficult bunch to hire, manage, train and retain, but as I wrote in an open letter to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff the other week, there's a great opportunity here for Millennials and their managers alike to get on the same page and maximize Gen-Y's potential. 

Join our movement at savethemillennials.com and pledge your organization's commitment to helping save this important new generation in our workforce. We're the future leaders of the global workforce, and we need all the help we can get.

Save the Millennials

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Ambition clarifies and publicizes real-time performance analytics for your entire sales organization. Using a drag-and-drop interface, non-technical sales leaders can build custom scorecards, contests, reports, and TVs.

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Sales Leaders, HR Professionals, and C-Level Executives use Ambition to recognize, motivate, and develop employees into more engaged and productive versions of themselves. Funded by Google, used by the Fortune 500, endorsed by the Harvard Business Review.
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