3 Insightful True Stories about Millennials in the Workforce

September 22, 2015

Are you a Baby Boomer or Gen-X member who manages a fleet of Millennial sales, marketing and customer success personnel? Or perhaps, like me, you’re a Millennial yourself?

Save the Millennials

Whichever demographic you belong to, there’s a 99.99% chance you’ve come across an article on managing workforce Millennials. And, in the words of Rich Homie Quan, it “made you feel some type of way.”

If that last reference made sense to you, by the way, you’re in all likelihood a Millennial. If you have a dumbfounded grimace on your face right now, you’re definitely a Boomer.

Which goes to this article’s point, of course, though I don’t need to tell you there are major generation gaps affecting our workplace. Nor do I need to bore you with the same trite “How to do [x] with Millennials.”

Been there. Done that.

Instead, I want to tell you 3 true stories about Millennial colleagues of mine I hope you’ll find to be revealing, insightful and at times humorous glimpses into what makes the Millennial workforce tick.

Managing Millennials: Three Real-Life Parables

These three stories, in a nutshell, are microcosms of greater trends amongst the Millennial workforce:

  • Lack of direction and discipline.
  • Frustration with coaching, training and professional development.
  • Desire for passion about our product/service, company and role.

Scores of nodding, pissed-off Boomer and Gen-X managers agree.

True Story One

Fresh out of college, a Millennial colleague of mine got an interview with a prominent local advertising firm.

His friend, then a current-intern with the company, vouched for Mr. Millennial as a solid candidate for an entry level Ad Exec position. All parties were optimistic.

Then the interview happened.

20 minutes in, everything’s going smoothly, when the recruiter asks our friend: “What’s your biggest professional weakness?”

Mr. Millennial stared thoughtfully for a moment, before uttering, “Consistency. Sometimes I’m there, and sometimes I’m not.”

The interview ended abruptly shortly thereafter.

My colleague didn’t get an offer, but to his credit, he did tell the truth. One that applies to a large swath of the largest workforce demographic in America.

And should any Boomer out there mock him for lack of expediency, you first need to answer for the staggering callowness of this year’s Presidential candidates. At least Mr. Millennial tells it like it is.

True Story Two

Another old college buddy of mine paid me a visit a few weeks ago.

We talked about our jobs for a while. He’d spent now more than 3 years at his current company – his first out of college – and when pressed about his satisfaction with his current role, he confessed:

“I’m not happy. Last week, my boss (middle-aged, ex-Navy) yelled at me because a girl I manage wouldn’t get off her cell phone during her shift. I didn’t graduate college to become a professional hall monitor.”

Go on, I urged him.

“The real problem is, one, this guy is a big-time yeller — which is something I don’t respond to. He pulled me into his office the other day and berated me because my team hadn’t moved our outdoor equipment into its proper staging area when a thunderstorm hit.

I asked him, ‘Okay, what should I have done differently?’


But like many managers out there, my colleague’s boss hadn’t done a thing to teach him how to lead his Millennial peers. And my buddy not only had no prior leadership, he detested the responsibilities that consisted “leadership” in that particular role.

Worst of all, he also saw a ceiling lowering on his growth potential within that particular company.

Three works after our visit, my buddy texted me and let me know he’d put in his two weeks notice. After 3+ years, he was leaving the company.

True Story Three

A (very) close female colleague of mine, another Advertising Executive, got a well-paying job providing marketing and advertising services for casinos.

Ms. Millennial, let’s call her, was already a model of professional excellence by the time she entered the workforce. Industrious, driven, charming and incredibly sharp on her feet, she was every employer’s dream.

There was just one problem: She had zero passion for her key professional objective – help casinos lure more gamblers into their gaming halls.

When a similar opportunity with Facebook opened up, she couldn’t apply fast enough, and is now much happier helping businesses excel in their social media marketing efforts.

Like Don Draper swearing off the tobacco industry, the move was also a savvy one for Ms. Millennial’s career. She’s thinking about the future, digital marketing, as opposed to the past, digital billboards.

Facebook’s office, by the way, has its own bar. The previous employer didn’t stand a chance.

Help Save the Millennials

These are just three of thousands upon thousands more true stories impacting the workplace.

Millennials can be a difficult bunch to hire, manage, train and retain, but as I wrote in an open letter to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff the other week, there’s a great opportunity here for Millennials and there managers alike to get on the same page and maximize Gen-Y’s potential.

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