Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Millennials Get Jobs

Apparently, us kids born between the years 1980 and 2001 have just been given a new nickname and it is the Millennials. 

My father (who is really into me making this job my future career - yay for working from home!), sent me an article in the mail the other day from the Wall Street Journal. The article was really an adaptation from Ron Alsop's new book "The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace"

And let me tell you. This "shaking" they speak of does not include moving of one's hips to music - unfortunately this shaking is used in a more negative connotation. 

In his book, Alsop speaks of a generation that have crazy expectations of how they see themselves at a company as well as in their positions. As the article says, "Employers realize the millennials are their future work force, but they are concerned about this generation's desire to shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to the workplace." 

We millennials grew up in a different era than our grandparents and our parents. We were told we could do anything, achieve anything, be anything we wanted to be. We got trophies just for showing up to practice. Even if we got C's and D's on our report cards, we got praise. And now that we're all grown up and entering the work force, we expect nothing but the best. We expect higher pay, flexible work schedules, and longer vacations. Why not? We can have anything we want and be anything we want to be. And if our employers don't like it? So what! We'll get it somewhere else. 

The article really intrigued me mainly because as I was reading it I kept nodding and thinking, 'I totally deserve a pay raise' and 'I have so many talents they could never fire me'. Growing up with a sense of entitlement ingrained in my brain apparently can have some negative effects.

The article also addressed how managers have to adapt to a millennial's mindset in order to make their inexperienced  and high-maintenance employee a more respective and effective employee. His tips to winning us over? Make sure that the job responsibilities that we explained in terms of how they will pay off for us in the end, explain the meaningfulness behind a subject, and place us in an environment where we feel like our views matter. 

Alsop also says that if we are not given enough positive reviews mixed in with our criticism, that you may as well kiss us goodbye. Because millennials are not good with negative. We like the positive and a lot of it. Sure, we can take a negative hit, but follow that up with something positive. Alsop says if we hear too much 'no' and 'not that way' that we will up and quit because "millinnials break down in tears after a negative performance and even quit their jobs". 

Have you been nodding this entire time too? Because I have. 

I am so a Millennial. And some of the scenarios that the article talked about (like a guy who had gone through 3 jobs in one year and saw nothing wrong with it) don't sound like they came out of left field. And the part about needing positive reinforcement. That fits me to a tee. 

I think what I really garnered from this article was the importance of asking for what you want and thinking you can be anything...but within reason. It's perfectly reasonable to want vacation time or more sick days, but taking advantage is bad employee etiquette. Respecting your employer is of the utmost importance, and thinking that you could potentially go from assistant to CEO in a year is utterly impossible. 

While this article does speak a lot about entitlement, I don't think it meant to discourage. In fact, I really think it aids the employer. It tells them how to deal with us - delicately. 

And while yes, I completely agree that I saw myself in the description of Alsop's "Millennial", I also think that over the course of the year and half that I have been in my first job I have grown up. I still think of myself as deserving, but I also know that to truly deserve anything I have to prove myself. And proving yourself takes a while, but once earned can take you quite far in your career. 

30 comments:

The Invisible Student said...

I posted about something very similar to this the other day. Of course it was from the point of view of the older grumps that have to deal with "Millenials," their sense of entitlement and inability to accept criticism that isn't wrapped in marshmallows and cotton candy.
Based on what I've read from you though, I highly doubt this truly applies to you.

Suz said...

I totally agree with everything you said. I am so a Millennial too. I don't think it is a bad thing or should be seen in a negative way. It's just a new and different way, which might be threatening to some. Can I get a copy of that for my boss?

Caz said...

Wow, I totally found myself knodding along to what you were reading saying "hey this is so me!"

But I also agree that it's not a negative thing, it's just a change, just as the baby boomers were a change when they entered the workforce... It's always been the "older" generation that's had a difficult time accepting change and the younger generation that comes after them. It's always been like this, and probably always will be.

Then again, while I am definitely a Millenial, I do understand what's wrong with having 3 jobs in one year, and know that fitting my job into my lifestyle is very different then being a slacker and taking advantage...

Sunny said...

Millennials seem to be great guys.

Cayman's Girl said...

YAY for being a Millenial! Positive Mental Attitude is where its at with our generation! but i dont agree with him that we give up at the first sign of doubt in our abilities....

ScoMan said...

I was reading this and thinking about a conversation I had with one of the Gen-X'rs at work.

I remember her saying about a year after I started (at my first job- which I am still at, 4 years on. Feels like a lifetime) that she couldn't believe how amazing it was that our boss thanks us for working each day. We don't get "Good night".. we get "Thank you"

I couldn't find it as interesting as she did, sure I thought it was different, but she was amazed, but maybe all this explains why.

Cyndi said...

I was nodding too, there's a real element of truth to the millenials theory. It varies in degree from millenial to millenial though, I think.

I'm glad our generation finially have a name!

Angela said...

I'm totally a Millenial! Like some of the other posters, I'm kind of all about it. I think we Millenials rock. We CAN do/be anything!! (YES WE CAN) But I think that we can (or at least think we can) because our parents/teachers/coaches have always told us so. So they can't really be mad, they kind of created us, literally and figuratively.

And I am so bad with needing positive reinforcement. I've been at my first job for about 6 months now, and have cried twice. UGH. My boss is pretty awesome though, I'm sure he thinks I'm just a crazy woman (he's 74), but he's so nice.

Mishi said...

Wow. That is definitely me. I've had to adjust my attitude and feelings of entitlement down a notch since I started working - and I have definitely left a job because all they gave me was negative feedback. I thought I was terrible. Didn't realize it was inter-generational communication problem! (They begged me to stay when I said I was leaving, but by then I'd made up my mind)

I don't know how I feel about the name though. Millenials? Couldn't they give us a better title then that?

Sofia said...

Oh my God, I'm a Millennial too!:P

I've read something about that and one of the examples was the google company wich offers a lot of extras for the hapyness of the high demanding workers.. pfff

But honestly I don't have the distance to analyze this, because I'm in it. What I see is that our generation is somewhat ireesponsable. We've stuck in the teen years and live with parents 'till they throw as out.

Wait, I'm not like that... Humm there must be subtipes of Millennials no?:P

Just found out your blog and a good surprise:)*

NewlywedCentral said...

Those are some pretty incredible insights -- What I like is how while you see characteristics within yourself that are "Millennialish", you took an article that could push a Millennialist's entitlement over the edge and said "Wait a minute, I might have some of this... but I'm going to use it for good" -- *THAT* is what I believe the author was hoping to accomplish -- Good for you...

kimmers said...

This is so my boyfriend and I. I think this will be something to keep in mind when we feel underappreciated... goes both ways right? I mean I definitely thrive on positive reinforcement, but I also know the criticism is important to get too. And yeah, I do think I deserve good benefits, a nice salary, and lots of vacation time... but I also work HARD. Every day. And I have 2 PT jobs on the side too. So yes, I feel entitled... but I also think I earn the things I want.

Great post.

Green said...

I love being a millenial, but I have to say I DO NOT just give up because someone criticised. I don't particularly like criticism but it is a part of everyday life and the way we will learn from mistakes and further our selves.

I think it is a good thing to expect some positive feed back no matter how small, everyone deserves respect from the boss and colleagues and it is definitely not asking too much of them, providing they show respect in return. Treat others the way you would expect to be treated and all that!

Like most people have said, things are changing, we are lucky that now we have a better understanding of our human rights and are more likely to be able to have our say to get things improved, where as maybe the older generation didn't feel they could stand up to their boss and demand some respect.

I think being a HARD WORKING Millenial is the way forward.

Twenty-Something said...

Omg how crazy. At first when I started reading this I felt insulted then... yep, I'm a Millennial. They really did create a monster by giving us all this confidence!

Zelda said...

All management should be required to read that book and/or article. As a Millennial in the workplace, communication with my superiors is something I've struggled with. Like the article says, I like to be told why I need to do something...what the benefits are, not just "hey you, do this! don't worry about why." I can handle the criticism, just give me something positive to work towards.

Great post!

Crystal said...

I hate to break it to you, but the 'Millenials' were not the first generation to be brought up thinking they could do anything. That would be the 30 somethings of 'Generation X'. A few key differences...

-Gen Xers were told that they had to work hard to get what they wanted.
-Gen Xers can take critisism because we were given it in spades by our parents, who in turn got it even worse from their parents. Honestly, it builds character.

I'm not a 'Millenial', I'm a Gen-Xer. And I see you (yes, you) coming into the work force. But honestly, your managers are looking at Gen-Xers as the next upper management workforce, not you. I think it may be a typical 'Millenial' thing, to completly forget there is a generation of people waiting between you, and your management job.
Of course I don't mean to dish out any critisism. I'm not doing that (insert cotton candy here).
The blog just seemed to focus on your generation, and my Mom's generation, and forgot mine.

Born with a big mouth! said...

well I am older than the age range, but I think I fall into it. I have always stayed at jobs for years but see myself just quitting if i got a bad review ....oh and yes it would make me cry.

oh.... I tagged you. see my page

http://erinscircle.blogspot.com/

Me! said...

Funny you post this because I just sat through a seminar at work called Generational Diversity. Being one of 10 millenials in a room of 100, I thought I was going to get slaughtered. Instead, though, the speaker made the seminar fun and engaging, so by the end of it we all had a better understanding of all generations. I wish all companies could experience this seminar because it really has helped our team work better together. Now my boss (a boomer) texts me instead of calling because apparently that's the way to communicate with us the best LOL. And I actually do like it better! :-)

lisa said...

Hmm Alsop painted with some pretty broad strokes based on your description. I was born in 1984, but my Chinese immigrant parents instilled in me an extremely strong work ethic and taught me that I had to earn anything I really want. As a result, I worked very hard in school and set high standards for myself; in fact, my managers at my job now are always commenting on how my standards for my work are higher than those of my colleagues!

In my household, A's on a report card weren't cause for celebration; they were just what was expected of you. For example, a friend in high school went home with a 98 in French--the highest mark in the class--and her father wanted to know "what happened to the other 2 percent." Just because my birthday falls within a certain time span does not make me a Millenial according to Mr. Alsop's characterization.

Far said...

hmm i guess i missed it by a year... i wonder what those of us born in 79 are called then lol

Tricia said...

I remember being in my 20's and all the articles being about hiring and managing GenX employees and how we differed from the Boomers! :) Now those of us in GenX are the ones trying to manage you Millenials and the bulk of the Boomers are retiring.

Daisy said...

This is fascinating, and I definitely recognise myself in there. I also feel though that our generation (and I speak from a UK perspective) has found it particularly hard to FIND jobs after university - there has been so much more competition and our parents just don't understand why we complain that we can't get work. It was easier in some ways for their generation, and they didn't even go to university.

kim said...

It's so bizarre you blogged about this...I read a similar article a few months ago and have been thinking about it ever since.

I have a 5 year old daughter and for her Preschool graduation she got to wear a CAP AND GOWN. Preschool. Not college.

I'm a Millennial and it's good that an article like this can wake us up to how we might be perceived in the work place and how to make ourselves better.

Oh, PS. I totally cried in my first "real job" review. They said I spent too much time online. Shocker.

Natasha said...

What is this? I thought I was Gen x or y or some other letter? You mean we actually get a noun? Super.

I'm very millenial, I think. I have totally unrealistic expectations.

Phoebe Caulfield said...

I thought we were called Gen Y?

I actually don't think that some of those characteristics are particularly different from other generations. I know boomers who don't handle criticism well, either. I think a better reason for this than "we have false senses of entitlement" is that more boomers don't have college degrees, and therefore have fewer job options, so they pretty much have to stay at jobs that make them unhappy. Gen Y-ers/millenials tend to hold degrees, and therefore have more mobility.

Additionally, at the time that many boomers were starting their careers, companies tended to promote within and offer more room to grow. Companies aren't so possessive of employees today. There's less room to grow, less guarantee that a company will "take care of you" the longer you stay with them. So, little incentive to stay.

It's not a bad thing that we were raised in more positive environments than our parents. We're not "spoiled" because our parents decided to positively reinforce desirable behavior more than they punished negative behavior. I for one am glad that beating your children into unquestioning submission is quite out of fashion.

Sorry for hijacking this thread.

The Girl said...

haha, i'm tempted to show this to my soon to be ex-boss! i was nodding along the entire way as i read your post and i realised this was exactly the reason i had requested for an internal transfer at my firm so that i could work for a different boss, one who doesn't give me all negative feedback all the time.

shazzain said...

Cool blog!!

I was definately nodding all the way but I'm still with my first job after 5yrs! but now...I feel like I deserve a lot more from them (not like I didn't feel this way previously), more entitlement to lots of additional benefits after the 5 yrs of hard work...I don't think thats asking too much.

btw, I like being called a Millennial rather than Gen Y! It's wayyy cooler!

Carmen said...

I have taken three courses at work to learn how to deal with millenials... honestly - I get you guys (I am only a couple of years older than the oldest millenials) - it is the parents of millenials that I have the issue with - the helicopter parent... those are the parents that I want to shake and tell them to let their kids do stuff for themselves!

OK... enough ranting for today! :)

Alynger said...

I am an older Millenial who works at a college dealing with the kids born in 1990 (OMG!!)

There are alot of differences just between them and myself...alot of entitlement and confrontation issues. I agree though, with the commenter who talked about the "helicopter parent". They are the issue, not the child. When one of my students has a roommate issue, problem with a classmate or sorority sister, or does not like the outcome of a judicial hearing, I get a call from a parent...and it is not just a "Oh, I had a question about..." it is "Who do you think you are," "How can you make a decision like that..." "My child would never...".

It is almost like the parent feels more entitled than the student...and all the FERPA rules that we have to follow, there is actually very little that we can share with the parent...guess how that makes them feel.

It is a very interesting group of people that we are working with, and it seems that every year there is another quirk that shows though!

Thanks for the post...and the blog! I love it :)

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