It’s morning. Coffee mugs of all shapes and sizes start flooding the office. You take a seat at your desk, excited to start your work for the day. As always, the younger coworkers’ voices reach your ears, making you furious. They won’t stop chatting about the latest Facebook posts, or complaining about the inflexible work schedule, stiff coworkers, the number of official policies they have to remember, and god knows how many other things. Sounds familiar?
They are the millennials- those born between 1984-2000, often described as narcissistic, lazy and disinterested. „Born with a smartphone”, this generation has a never-before seen ability to adapt to the new and to happily welcome changes within society, traits which earned them the nickname „digital natives”. Among this generation’s characteristics, we can highlight the deep desire to quickly climb the professional ladder, the ease with which they switch jobs as soon as something better comes along, a constant need for approval, as well as an innate openness to change of any kind.
At a glance, the millennial demographic may seem a nightmare at the workplace, like too much to handle. Some organizations have a flexible culture, the emphasis being on young employees, while, in others, senior workers are more appreciated. How can we harmoniously collaborate with these kinds of people at the workplace, regardless of the company’s environment?
Firstly, it is important to understand that millenials owe a big part of their personality to their age. They are young, freshly emerging on the labour market and excited to be acknowledged by the world- normal traits for anyone just beginning the journey of their career. Then, every demographic’s personality is fundamentally influenced by certain events or happenings from society. If the Baby Boomers saw the rise of the technological era and the spread of media channels, the millenials are those who are completely immersed in this phenomenon, digitization being a part of all aspects of their lives. Technology brought about new ways of interacting, learning and, frankly, of looking at society and the environment, while emphasizing the idea of unity, broadening of horizons and shaping the concept of „global citizen”.
However, in every country influences of the place’s cultural values exist and manifest, especially through other citizens. These can not be that easily swayed by external events. Thus, traits which are millenial-specific in Romania may differ, more or less, from millenials in other countries.
According to Dragoş Iliescu (during a speech within Romanian Youth Focus, 2015), the Romanian millennial generation is one which is more individualistic, with a higher dose of hedonism, who tends towards decentralization of power, preferring instead that companies have hierarchies based more on convenience, way more flexible than the traditional ones. In regards to their personality, romanian millenials are more narcissistic, and with a lower emotional stability- having received, growing up, mostly positive feedback, this demographic developed a lower tolerance to negative feedback and critique. According to data, romanian millenials are, also, a more extravert generation, witnessing a rise in perseverance and conscientiousness.
Thus, it becomes obvious that a big part of job conflicts between millenials and more senior employees are, mostly, a normal part of intergenerational conflicts. However, this generation poses both a challenge, as well as an opportunity for managers to review and to update their relationship with their employees. A study recently conducted by PwC comes to our aid in this regard, offering a couple of practical advice, which can be implemented right away:
- The answer lays in acknowledging age differences: it is important to keep in mind that, inevitably, inter-generational conflicts will arise in the workplace. It is, however, a phenomenon which can be at least subsided, if not avoided entirely, through encouragement of open communication, as well as deciding upon common strategies in which certain tasks should be performed. Moreover, we have to accept the fact that technology will become increasingly prevalent in the workplace, it being the younger generation’s favourite way of communication, rather than having to sit through long meetings and phone calls.
- Transparency is key: nothing is more frustrating than going to an interview in which you get promised unicorns and rainbows, and after the first few days of work to find out that things are not as initially described. It is, thus, recommended to be honest and transparent with every candidate, both about the good, the bad, and the less glamorous about the organization. Another piece of advice would be revising the compensation policies. We can begin to emphasize other types of benefits besides the monetary rewards. For instance, a great deal of employees are attracted to the possibility of customizing their own benefit packages, so having such an option can never be a bad thing.
- Encourage growth: in order to be able to attract and retain numerous millennials in our organization, we must be try to align to their objectives as well. From the body of research conducted so far, this generation increasingly starts to value professional growth and continuous learning. Most certainly young employees will get excited about the occasions in which they will be required to find new and creative solutions to old problems the status quo faced. It also doesn’t hurt to think of this as an opportunity to challenge them to give their best at work. It would also do us well to be aware that it is best to have mixed teams age-wise, and tasks to be as different as possible. Any task wich errs on the indesirable or unpleasant side can be presented as a career milestone, a strategy which will certainly make millennials feel proud about later.
- Feedback feedback feedback. The millennial demographic wants and values contingent feedback. As opposed to previous generations, who were used to getting a yearly evaluation and that’s it, millenials constantly want to know how they’re doing, and if they are on the right way. The recommendation would be that managers offer honest feedback, in real time- without forgetting to mention the important contributions or the progress their employees made.
- Emphasis on flexibility: Millenials love flexibility. They perform best with clear instructions and goals, but with a blurry in-between. If they are expected to have measurable results, does it really matter where or how they work? As long as they deliver what they promise, a recommendation would be not to keep millenials on a short leash, allowing them the freedom of working when or where they want to, or how much time they spend at the office.
- Developing a learning friendly environment: today’s youth is a generation who wishes to grow and learn as much as possible. In this regard, a company culture which promotes learning is most welcome. Besides formal training programmes, good ideas would be organizing innovation contests within the organization, rewarded with a catchy prize, founding the company’s library or an efficient mentoring programme.
- Quick career advancement: Until now, promotions and career advancement were reserved to seniors and to those who spent a lifetime in the same organization. However, millennials don’t see things this way. They value their results and merits more than the face time and the time in which it becomes socially acceptable to get promoted. So, if your talents already have what it takes to get promoted, why keep them stuck in a role in which they cannot grow anymore? A relatively simple fix would be adding more layers to the organizational structure, or implementing a gamified strategy toward career advancement within the current role. This should be enough to stimulate a millenial’s need for continuous improvement.
- Accepting that every beginning has an end: it is unrealistic to expect that every employee (especially the best ones) will be forever our employees. It’s best to enjoy our employees, their performance, and to try to develop them as much as possible, while also prepare ourselves for the inevitable moment in which they will leave.
So we don’t want to host classes or pretend we are experts in career counseling. We will try though, with our recruitment expertise, to offer some pointers to consider when thinking about your CAREER.
Questions to ask yourself
What are your strong points? (I know these questions seem over-rated, but they are very important. You will be able to know and describe what is best fitted to your abilities).
Which would you think are your weak points? (what do you view as a weak point? – sometimes a weak point in a certain area can be a strong one in another. If you are the kind of person who gets bored by a sting of code, but you are still passionate about everything technical, you may be perfectly suited for a sales role in this field, or, perhaps for technical support)
Which are the activities you enjoy the most?
What is the context in which you have the best results?
What is the general field in which you would enjoy working? Why?
What is your learning style? (do you like to learn about something by reading how it’s done? Observing someone doing it? Or, perhaps, examining someone else’s results, in order to learn from them?)
What kind of company/environment is best for you?
Which of the two scenarios do you see as more suitable for you?
The entrepreneur is the person who enjoys having the freedom to make decisions, have ideas and initiatives, as well as implementing them, overseeing their entire completion process. With endless courage, an entrepreneur tackles risks and responsibilities, which oftentimes could prove to be more work than one can handle.
Naturally, some are also very deliberate entrepreneurs, for whom every step must pe perfecctly documented and planned before taking action. But more often than not, an entrepreneur acts on impulse.
What to do if the above describes you perfectly? Well, most likely you won’t have the monetary resources – and perhaps nor the experience- to build your own business right away.
What is important, however, is to feel like an entrepreneur, to feel like you can suggest or implement new ideas of changes, that you have freedom of movement, that you’re not bound by old patterns and that you have flexibility.
You may also find all these as an employee. The question you must ask yourself is where can I have all of these?
It is more likely to find this kind of flexibility in start-ups, rather than in multinational companies with hundreds upon thousands of employees. If the employer has more than 100 employees, it already becomes difficult to benefit from such an environment. Those who do, however, have a very big rate of tenure, because their envolvement is apposite.
You must take it upon yourself to, at every interview, find out details about the hiring company and find out if you can fit in and perform easily there.
If you will feel constricted by „n” types of reports or fixed working hours or activities that seem redundant and red-tape-ish, but you are not allowed to bring improvement to any process, or any idea that you have is thoughtlessly tossed aside, you feel as if you are just another unimportant face in the system, you are wasting your time and you can not grow as you would like to. You should consider the fact that this particular environment may not be suitable for you.
Generally speaking, what defines an employee is the need for financial security. I believe no one would still be employed if everyone was financially sound. Everyone would prefer to run their own business, become an entrepreneur or, maybe, as some say, to slack off, because one is financially assured.
All of us need financial predictability. Both employees and entrepreneurs.
There is no clear distinction, but one could say there are candidates who are „the entrepreneurial type”, and candidates who are „the employee type”.
The first type is defined, most probably, by a greater need for freedom and involvement, while the second through a need of strict rules, procedures, predictability.
There is no clear line between the two typologies, each of us could just as easily be an employee in cetain environments and an entrepreneur in others. What matters in the end is to know what kind of environment and company is best suited for us.
You can easily solve this mistery- no 6 month long internships or work experiencce required. You simply have to think really hard about what are the things you like, in what work condidtions do you feel particularly happy and what is it that gets your „creative juices flowing”.
Do you prefer to be involved in taking the tough decisions or are you most comfortable following others’?
The interview is drawing to an end and you still don’t know much about the job you applied for, besides what was written in the add and the scarce information the recruiter offered you.
You just can’t not be curious: if you get the job, the better part of your every day, for a long time, will be spent at work.
Ask. Enquire. Probe for information. It’s your right to know.
But what is it that you would actually want to find out?
Go to the interview with your homework done. Be prepared. Think about what you know about the role and about the company, and aim to compose a list of what you don’t know, but would like to.
Anything. You can sort through the questions later but, for now, just be curious.
For some of your questions you will get indirect clues, during the visit to the company’s offices, for the interview: what is the atmosphere like? How are people treated in this company?
For such queries you most deffinitely can formulate an answer by yourself, if you think about them well enough: have you been greeted respectfully? Were you welcomed well? What was happening in the lobby when you arrived? Did anyone acknowledge you right away? Were any confidential matters being discussed in the hallway? How many employees were on a „smoking break”? Did anyone send you smile without having been previously introduced? Were you left waiting for a long time? Did you have the interview in an appropriate space? Did the interviewer ask before calling you by your name? Did they explain what the discussion will be about and what are the „rules of the game”?
Then, pay close attention to what the interviewer will ask you.
What kinds of questions are they insisting upon? Do they offer enough details about the workplace? Do they have a pre-made list of questions and desired answers?
Don’t be shy. Ask if you may interrupt with appropriate questions, whenever their explanations are not clear enough to you. It’s not a problem if you interrupt with a question, as long as it’s on point, and relevant to the topic you were discussing at that particular time.
It is, however, a problem if, while the recruiter is explaining something, you interrupt to enquire about a previous topic or one which you are especially interested in, but haven’t got to that part yet. Gather the questions you have that do not fit anywhere during the discussion in a sort of „bunch”, and ask if you are permitted to address them at the end, before the final stage of the meeting, while mentioning that they are odd questions on topics which haven’t been covered so far.
Don’t be indifferent. Don’t ask solely about the material benefits, no matter how much you are interested in them. If not for a more practical reason (wanting to know where and how you will have to work, that is), at least through the perspective that it’s not the least flattering for the employer to learn that you are not one bit interested in their company and the opportunity they present you with. Why would they hire you, provided that you’re not interested in what they are doing or their environment, but exclusively on the material gains?
Be sharp. Asked directly, people tend to get embarassed and few actually still manage to lie. So ask short, straight-to-the-point questions.
Don’t be so sure you can always get your answers later.