Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Challenges of Managing Millennials

Several years ago, this CEO got the bright idea that we would hire Millennials, recent college grads, put them through intensive training that we called Boot Camp and bring them into our company as entry level, front line employees dealing with our customers.  So, we hired a class of 13 of them with high hopes that this would be the answer to our future recruitment requirements.  Well guess what, this experiment failed miserably. 

Some did not last 3 months.  Some made it to 6 months; but none was in our company a year later.  These young people just could not handle the riggers of a demanding job where they had to be on the phone from 8:30 am - 5:30 pm dealing with our customers.   While it is usually not wise to use a sampling to form a general impression, if this was just a few of them, it would be easier to assume that Millennials were not up to the challenges of these jobs; but 13 employees was a big enough sampling teaching us to never do that again. 

This may be a societal issue.  I remember when our sons were playing soccer.  When Johnie missed the goal, his parents would yell "nice try" giving Johnny a false sense of achievement.  This CEO never yelled "nice try" when our sons missed a goal.  I said nothing unless they made the goal.  Too many Millennials have been told they are wonderful for doing nothing important.   That does not work in business.  We found that some of our Millennial hires wanted to be recognized for just showing up for work.  They thought showing up warranted a salary increase and promotion.  Some of them just did not have the physical stamina to do the job.  I recall a few of them in the back of our building with their heads down on our picnic tables taking naps in the middle of the day.  I don't know if that was from playing too hard off work, or just because they were exhausted by the demands of the job.

Suffice to say, since our experiment failed, we will never attempt it again.  If we hire young people, it will be to lower level jobs to allow them the time to learn how to work.  Only then will they be promoted to positions dealing with our customers.   And, we will look to what they did working their way through university as an indication that they have the discipline to handle a full time job.   Work is not play.  If it was play, it would be called play.  My advice to Millennials is to accept a position out of school and stick with it to gain valuable work experience that is marketable.  Jumping from job to job, in less than a year, as is common with Millennials is no way to build a resume.