MIT researcher and aging specialist Joseph Coughlin has a bit more credibility than other Wall Street Journal “experts” like Morgan Fairchild and Suzanne Sommers, but a recent post in which he discusses the challenges of employing “the kids today” (and the very fact that someone titled it “A Survival Guide to Working with Millennials“) is a pretty good example of why this discussion grows so dull. Some “key takeaways”:
“…your younger colleagues…have grown up believing that productive interactions are online, on text and on video”
Because that couldn’t possibly be true.
“Just because there is not a rectangular table with you sitting at the head does not mean that work isn’t being done.”
We hear they make square tables now.
“Despite the outer confidence of youth there is an inner insecurity in understanding the business, office politics and for some client relations.”
Right. But they’re not completely worthless:
“Younger employees are a fountain of knowledge when it comes to understanding and using new technology.”
If you teach them how to tolerate all those do-nothing meetings, they’ll show you how Snapchat works.
Coughlin’s view is really quite mild, though; he begins his piece by acknowledging that every generation goes through this and even goes so far as to suggest that maybe, just maybe, “younger colleagues may be your strategic partners in creating opportunities for job sharing, flexible hours and covering each other when one needs time away.”
A contradictory guest post in Wired tells us that corporate America has overcome its fear of Millennials: a recent study found that more businesses are adapting to fit the younger generation rather than the other way around, and it’s true that the words “lazy” and “entitled” don’t appear anywhere in the WSJ post. Still, we can guarantee that many readers whose titles begin with Cs read Coughlin’s post and thought “he didn’t go far enough.”
In summary: we hope this isn’t the way PR executives view their younger employees.