Monday, November 18, 2013

The Generational Gap - When Does it Age Out?

We often hear how this millennial generation is one of entitlement, fast spaced and is accustomed to many spoils which some may say leads to the unconventional modern employee.  Basically millennials' are the WTF generation who takes no crap, and will do as they please when they please as long as the job gets done!  Being labeled as Generation X I do tether on both the Baby Boomer and Millennial end until recently in which I think my so called balancing act is kind of swaying towards team Millennial and here's why.

By trade I am a Learning and Development professional which means I'm a strong proponent of growth and development, no shock there.  Recently I've been assigned a project to re-structure an Executive Training Program.  This program is geared to recent college graduates seeking retail management positions.  During the planning phase I included retail management seminars but also seminars geared to understand the life cycle of merchandise, the role of the corporate office and leadership development skills; afterall these people will be in management which will mean they will be leading.  As the re-structured program was viewed by leadership, the following comment was uniformly shared amongst these individuals "I don't want these trainees knowing anything else except retail, if we show them anything about corporate, they'll want to leave and join the corporate office".   It took me a minute to let the statement resonate and unfortunately I don't have a poker face so everything pretty much showed what I was feeling.  So rather than play coy, I just had to ask why?

The response for a lack of a better word was RIDICULOUS.  These "Leaders" said they have a fear of college kids who feel entitled.  To them it was insane that these young adults did not want to work on  weekends, and holidays (including Thanksgiving).  In reality who the hell wants to work on weekends and on Thanksgiving especially after I've completed four years of college and have mounting student debt.  Furthermore, their rationale was once they get a sense that there's something else out there they would want to leave, so it would be best not to expose them.  When was the last time you heard of a college graduate not being exposed; one word to defy this, Internet!  The first thing I could think of was the word oppression and a sense of keeping a group down; being a Blacktina I can relate.  As I evaluated their responses I couldn't help but notice they called the management trainees, kids; that alone means they aren't being respected.  Secondly, how can we be a Learning and Development culture and you have a fear of growth opportunities? The sentiment alone contradicts the body of work you so admiringly have pursued as your passion.  And then it hit me, it wasn't about being a Learning and Development professional, it was about being OLD!

The fear factor during this meeting was displayed by those who have been with the company 20 years plus and they weren't 40.  The average age in this meeting ranged from 40-62.  The one's in the 40 range you could tell were baffled, but those 50 and 60 year olds, good lord they meant what they said and wanted like hell to stay that way.   Adjectives like spoil, smarty pants, arrogant were all thrown out to describe these college recruits.  With the obvious resentment towards this generation I had to ask why are we recruiting them.  The answer was simple, we are a progressive organization.  I almost died! LOL.  Really!?!?! You're progressive but you're scared to let them see anything other than what they're here for.  It took all of me to say get the f*ck outta here with that bullshit! But I think my poker face showed it all.

As the meeting adjourned my boss who's also a sistah and around my age understood my frustration and applauded me for quickly recovering.  She then suggested that I "crawl" rather than challenge this group.  Basically spoon feed them only a little cause they ain't ready.  While I appreciated her advice I was pisst the f*ck off.  Why do I have to "crawl" and take it easy? Is it out respect? Is out of fear that I'll be deemed troublesome? Why can't these Boomers see their antiquated methods have aged out?!?! Coincidentally the reasoning to restructure this program was due to it's attrition rate of 32%, considerably low compared to other retailers.  Unfortunately, to this group the reason for such failure is the perception of millennial entitlement.  Their perception and control makes me really wonder who's the entitled group now?

Peace Out,

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