Mercedes is a millennial who was recently assigned to Sandy’s department. Sandy likes working with younger people who are natives of the digital world and can show her how to use her smart phone apps. They are young, enthusiastic and some, like Mercedes, are idealists.
Mercedes wants to change the world. After college, her parents supported her for an additional year so that she could work at a non-profit. Her record of clever ideas for the non-profit helped her get hired at Sandy’s company.
In her first week, Mercedes suggests some relatively inexpensive software upgrades that improve efficiency and save money. Most of the savings come from job cuts as tasks are automated. The older workers who are let go aren’t qualified for other open positions and management cut the training budget back around the time Mercedes was born. Mercedes doesn’t notice the job losses because she’s on to her next big idea.
Her next big idea is an IT systems upgrade that may save the entire company millions of dollars. Unfortunately, the upgrade will also cost tens of millions of dollars, require the company to shut down entirely for six months, and cause massive job cuts. She announces her idea to Sandy’s boss, Bob. He thanks Mercedes and boots her out of his office.
Mercedes doesn’t understand how Bob can be so dim-witted as not to see the long-term benefits. She won’t listen to Bob or Sandy when they tell her that the company simply can’t afford to give up six months of sales to rebuild IT systems from scratch.
Mercedes thinks that Bob and Sandy are being negative because they are dinosaurs who don’t “get” new technology and how it improves the world. Mercedes decides she needs to bypass the unenlightened ones and go straight to the top. She tells Sandy that she wants to pitch her idea to the company president.
- She can encourage Mercedes and then watch as the company president explodes like a geyser at the thought of losing six months revenue.
- She can suggest that Mercedes drink fewer cappuccinos and increase her wine consumption in the hopes she will have fewer brilliant ideas.
- She can tell Mercedes that the company president will be more receptive to her ideas if she can come up with a plan to offset the short term costs.
Idealism is a wonderful quality but not necessarily in the workplace. Idealistic employees can be encouraged to volunteer with local non-profits. HR can help by encouraging management to offer paid leave for volunteer work.
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