Help! My Boss is a Millennial & I’m a Senior Citizen!
by Cathy Paige, Vice President & General Manager, Active Staffing
What do Millennials & Seniors Have in Common?
Okay, so the headline might be slightly misleading. But not very much. When I came to work at Active Staffing as a consultant a couple of years ago, I was assigned to work with and mentor the 28-year-old heir apparent. Exactly what do I have in common with him? Turns out, much more than I thought I would.
The conversation in the news about millennials is constantly about work ethic and life balance, so perhaps I was pre-disposed to assume this meant less productive and less efficient. What I found in my millennial boss was a person who had those concerns, but who was also interested in finding new and smarter ways to conduct business, with technology as an enhancement and not a replacement.
Time Does Not Equal Results
One of the first things I noticed is that people in the millennial group do not mind working hard, but they do mind working long hours. My generation always prepared for the marathon, fit enough for a sprint every day. Going flat out with no breaks for a shorter day can accomplish as much as a 10-hour day filled with breaks and light conversation. It’s a style change, not a substance change. And that is where I had to figure out this new way of working. Less judgement on time in, more on results.
Millennials & Compensation
I often hear that this generation of young leaders have an unrealistic view of compensation. When you look at the statistics though, there are fewer people entering the workforce every year. As an old friend of mine used to say, “No matter how good your technology is, it still takes 18 years to make an 18-year-old.” When I was fresh out of college and looking for my first job, it was a different time. Families were larger and 18-year olds were plentiful. Now that they aren’t and the economy is booming, isn’t it simply smarter to expect better compensation for skills that are in demand? Spoiler alert: it is definitely smarter.
Finding Meaning at Work
My final point is about the need for meaning in the workplace. This group of young adults truly cares about creating products that are healthy, green, and make a positive difference in the world. I suspect it is harder to recruit top-notch people into the tobacco industry than it is to recruit for the same jobs in sustainable clean and healthy work environments. Considering the amount of time we all spend at work, and the impact it has on our own sense of worth in the world, this may be the smartest change of all.
I finish by saying, who is mentoring who? While I may know a lot about KPIs and ROI and a million other facts and figures, maybe learning to do what I value, from where I want to be, in a way that helps others is my new ROI.
Thanks Benny! And happy 30th birthday. You’ll celebrate differently than I did but take a moment to recognize the world is changing for the better and you and your millennial colleagues are leading the way. I feel very good about that.