I couldn't stop thinking about this article.

June 30, 2016

And not for a good reason, sadly. As I've said many times, I wrote my book because I felt that lots of people were talking about my generation, or to us, but not with us. Articles like the one I mentioned earlier are exactly the kind of thing that get my ire up, and prompted me to write in the first place. Now, in 2016, when one would think we've moved beyond the kind of down-talking monologues that made me angry in the first place, I've encountered another piece by an author (pictured) from an older generation that wants to lecture us about how to be good workers.

 

Just the presumption that I need to be instructed by virtue of my age is, put flatly, discriminatory. You're judging me based on a number. Why can the author not see that it's folly to do that? That it's folly to judge anyone based on one single factor of their existence? We wouldn't (or perhaps shouldn't?) do so based on race, or religion, or any of the other factors we've decided are wrong. Why is age not one of them?

 

The article, which you can read here, is entitled "6 Things Millennials Need to Know About the Modern Workplace," written by Phil La Duke. I read it yesterday, and it got me so annoyed that I couldn't stop thinking about it, even today. Not only does it get Millennials wrong, it's wrong on its face about how the modern working world actually works. It reads like a monologue by a gentleman who is no longer accustomed to how the workplace functions because it has changed so drastically from his heyday, so instead of adapting and learning he's decided to deride those of us who are shaping it. I felt that I wanted to respond to a handful of his points directly.

 

Note: I will state for the record that none of his assertions were backed by research or data. Nothing in his article is cited, so I can only assume that this is his own conclusion that he's working from.

 

"While few companies want you to hate your job, not many are going to take pains to get you to love it."

 

Not only do I find it odd that the expectation of enjoying a job is a nice stretch goal, but not realistic, it's absolutely incorrect as a general statement. According to a 2015 study by Aon Hewitt, engagement is not only something that edgy, progressive companies do, but rather it is "essential for success." They go on to note, "Engaging leaders who engage others are not just a nice to have—they are the key ingredient to creating a culture of engagement that sustains business results in an ever-changing and complex global environment." If you haven't come around to the understanding that happy, satisfied workers produce more and cost less, you are missing out, and that goes for not just Millennials, but anyone in the workforce. The most successful organizations of our economy not only recognize it, but devote plenty of resources to studying it and making it happen.

 

"You won’t be an executive in four years."

 

I don't have a statistic to back up what I'm about to say, but I think I'm on pretty safe ground to say that the generation as a whole has not put forward this expectation in the workplace. This is where the research of my book does a lot of the speaking for me. Millennials have faced the harshest job market of any generation in decades, and we're graduating with mountains of student loan debt into positions that are not commensurate with that education just so we can make money. We took jobs as baristas, administrative assistants and the like, roles that didn't require the education we pursued, because the positions that matched what we expected were being taken by people with far more experience. Often the result of being laid off from their own higher positions, these individuals that had been in the workforce for longer were resorting to downgrading their expectations just to pay bills, like we were.  When you put someone in that situation, where they know they can be contributing at a higher level, they will naturally look for the opportunity to do more and earn more as quickly as possible. That's how you hustle, and climb the ladder. Complacency never helped anyone.

 

"At the end of the day companies still expect a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay and ethics would seem to dictate that while at work you at least spend more time working on the things you are paid to do than you do posting on Facebook."

 

This is where my blood really started to boil. The title of this bulleted lesson was Integrity is Important. If you take the phrase, "Millennials lack integrity" and replace the word Millennial with one of the EEOC's protected classes, all of a sudden that phrase becomes disgusting. Why? Because it makes the person saying it look ignorant. I'd like to think that, as adults, we know that judging others based on a single aspect of their humanity does a greater disservice to ourselves than the person we judge, because we've misled ourselves into thinking we already know that person, and we usually don't until we get to know them. As for the original quote, I devoted an entire chapter of my book to deconstructing and illuminating digital addiction, so to reproduce it here would be senseless. I'll break it down into the key takeaways: 1) Each generation is guilty of surfing their phones at work, and 2) Millennials would much rather be doing something that challenges and engages us than looking at our phones, so it's a two-way street.

 

"In a world where credential inflation has created a hyper-educated workforce there are still menial jobs that need to be done and sorry kids, it will probably fall on you to do them."

 

I think you can tell the entire tone of this person's article and his treatment of the subject just in a two-word phrase: "Sorry kids." Kids? Do you have any idea how many Millennials are over age 30? The oldest of our generation is thirty-six. Why on earth would you say something so condescending to anyone? It doesn't make you seem pleasant or open-minded. It doesn't make me want to engage with you. And that's what made me angriest about this article - it wasn't written to foster mutual understanding, it wasn't written to be helpful. It was written to condescend, to mock, to demean. If you are not in the arena fighting with me, if you are on the bleachers making comments from the peanut gallery, then you've failed to understand the very basics of the struggle.

 

And now that I've gotten all of that off my chest, I'm going to put this silly article behind me and go back to being far better than it paints me to be.

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