Another update from the Jungle….
Mercedes and Hunter are millennials, and that’s a problem for their boss, Susan. Susan built her business from scratch after years of working for big corporations. But her toughest job has been working with millennials.
Mercedes and Hunter think the business world is flat. They think they are on the same level with Susan. They barge into her office to discuss details of their work as if she is a college chum rather than their boss. Susan believes in open lines of communication, but she’s explained many times that they need to first ascertain that she is free to talk rather than flopping down on a chair and talking.
They also seem to think that paying your dues is for others. Hunter constantly argues with Susan about the strategy for each client relationship. His occasionally condescending tone and know-it-all attitude is infuriating. Susan remembers years of struggle in corporate America and resists the urge to slap his head off his shoulders.
Millennials have opposable thumbs because they can only communicate via text messaging, using annoying symbols and other non-words, Susan thinks irritably. Perhaps that explains another lapse in business etiquette. What Mercedes and Hunter consider “honest” talk is perceived by clients as rude and disrespectful.
Susan values their fresh insights and technical skills, but she’s feeling worn down by their constant search for meaning. Last week, Hunter said he didn’t understand the purpose of his newest assignment. Susan managed, barely, to not say that the purpose is his paycheck.
Yesterday, Mercedes told Susan that the stress of working on her newest assignment had upset her too much to continue working that day. She walked out of Susan’s office, out the front door of the office, and down the street to the nearest coffee shop for another cappuccino.
Susan glared at the open doorway, infuriated, as she thought about her career in corporate America, surviving backstabbing co-workers and managers who chased management fads. She thinks a sniveling millennial wouldn’t survive a week in a traditional job.
What are Susan’s options?
- She can punt the millennials into outer space and look for replacements.
- She can retire to a Caribbean island with lots of rum and fruit.
- She can coach them on appropriate business behavior while adapting some of her business practices to fit their work habits.
The above scenario is a composite demonstrating the perceived differences between millennials and their baby boomer bosses. Baby boomers began their careers when face time counted and a strict hierarchy was enforced. Today’s workforce requires more flexible employee practices.
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