In my last blog, I’m a Millennial and We’re Begging to be Heard, I shared some stories and frustrations from fellow Millennials about their office culture or their bosses. Boy, oh boy! did that open a flood gate from acquaintances, friends, and family members of varying generations. As the comments and discussions increased, I realized this extrovert has a few other points to make that may resonate with more than just Millennials.
This blog is intended to share more messages from Millennials. As a disclaimer to the reader, similar to my last blog, all names and identifying information have been altered.
Give us feedback
We want to learn, and we have the student loan debt to prove it! We crave feedback. We want to get better and hear continuous feedback. Don’t just pull us into a yearly meeting and tell us “keep doing what you are doing.” If you think we are doing well, then tell us what we need to do to take the next step in our career or offer us more responsibility. What is worse than the dreaded “keep doing what you are doing” conversation is hearing about a mistake that we made 6 months ago. Tell us right away so we can address the mistake and fix it.
We know hard work too.
I graduated from the University of Wyoming (Go Pokes!) in 2008, when job losses reached 2.6 million and the year was labeled by CNNMoney.com staff as the “worst year for jobs since 1945.” I had very little experience other than my high school and college jobs and would apply for every job I could – in big cities, small towns, places where I knew a lot of people so I could crash on couches and places where I knew no one, like Alaska. I was being outmatched by highly qualified Gen X and Baby Boomer applicants at every turn. I lacked experienced and this over-achiever’s confidence was plummeting as bills, student loans, and the end of my apartment lease crept closer. I was an independent college grad who graduated at the top of her class. I could do this! And so, I applied and accepted a position as a receptionist at a plumbing shop for $10.50 an hour, I bartended nights and weekends, and took up odd jobs from cleaning houses to picking up dog poop. My point to this long-winded story is that while we are a generation known for receiving “participation trophies,” we also know hard work – just like the generations before us.
We want a boss who can get us fired up about the future not a boss who wants to fire us.
My friend Abby works in an office setting where she is assigned tasks through a scheduling system. Her boss constantly says things like, “I know I gave you some hard cases last week so I thought I would give you a few easier ones this week. Aren’t I a fair leader?” The same boss will also casually walk up the aisles of desks at 4:55 pm on Fridays to “wish everyone a good weekend” and will berate anyone who wasn’t at their desk when he stops by first thing Monday morning. Hard to imagine why turnover runs rampant and at a year and a half tenure, Abby is one of the most senior members of the team, huh? When I asked what made her job so terrible, she couldn’t think of anything except for her boss’s behavior. When I asked why everyone left, she said because of how they were being treated by management. The more I pried into other friends’ reasons for quitting great paying jobs, the more I heard about managers or bosses who were more likely to fire someone than to encourage or inspire their team to the next level. And so, I dug deeper and learned that Millennials will not put up with managers who hand out tasks like a drill sergeant and spend most of their time watching everything we do. Instead, we want a leader who is going to mentor us, help us grow, and fire us up about our future. To learn more, check out this Forbes article The Millennial Workforce Needs Mentors, Not Managers or read Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report, where one of the top five reasons employees leave is because of their manager or management.
We may ignore your phone calls but answer your texts
We were raised in the era of robo-callers and telemarketers and we don’t answer the phone unless we know your number. Don’t even get me started on my email - I actually have an email designated for junk/spam, stores, or that I use for online inquiries especially if I am researching a business. Gallup, in the How Millennials Want to Work and Live report, said that 69% of Millennials sent or read text messages “a lot” the previous day compared to other generations who only reported sending or reading text messages 26% of the time. If you want to reach your Millennial co-workers or team members, I encourage you to embrace text messaging -- it isn’t that different from email.
Now is the time to end complaining about or resisting Millennial preferences and understanding begins. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2017, 56 million Millennials were working or looking for work, which overshadowed the 53 million Gen Xers and 41 million Baby Boomers. As more Baby Boomers inch closer to retirement, Gen Xers and Millennials are taking on more meaningful roles in companies and firms. It isn’t a question about when we will take on leadership roles and become both your clients and your managers, but more importantly, where we decide to fill those roles. If we don’t decide to lead in your company or firm, what will happen to the legacy you’re building?