Notes From the Underground: Managing Your 20-Somethings

Notes From the Underground: Managing Your 20-Somethings
July 3, 2012 Keri

Hello! I’m Keri, the sometimes mentioned editor of this blog. In addition to making sense of the content Derek lovingly throws my way, I also rock one of those grown up jobs where I do typical receptionist/data entry/admin assistant type stuff.

For today’s purposes, I will egregiously stereotype myself to make a point. I am the college-going bubbly girl that everyone likes but doesn’t know what to do with. I sometimes show up with last night’s make up smeared into sleepless eyes, but I always do what is asked of me. Once word spread that I’m not an idiot, various departments started borrowing me for help on bigger projects. I like feeling productive and helpful, so I don’t mind. But I hate working with you people.
I mean you management people. Okay, maybe not YOU specifically (because you read this blog and you must be the pinnacle of management awesomeness) but you management stereotypes. You can be incessantly frustrating. So I’m calling a truce and giving it to you straight so you can get the most bang for your buck out of your entry level 20-somethings.
We don’t want to be your friend. In turn, you should know better than to be friends with us. But when we ask how your weekend was or if your sick first grader is feeling better, answer us. It helps up know that you aren’t the heartless robot we think you are. Keep in mind that we love social media; feel free to give us Twitter-esque responses in 140 characters or less.
Be consistent with us. I have a manager who is downright acerbic via email, then comes off super nice in person mere minutes after she hits send. This is annoying and confusing. Don’t fire off a nasty email, then ask us if it’s okay if your ten-year-old listens to Kesha (it’s not). If we screwed up, tell us. If you’re mad at us, fine. But we grew up with the internet and we don’t have much respect for people who are only tough behind a keyboard.
We still like getting gold stars. In fact, everyone does. We don’t expect you to roll out the red carpet every time we make a spreadsheet without hurting ourselves, but if we do a good job (especially with something we just learned) tell us. It will make us try harder next time.
If you think we don’t care about something enough, that’s probably your fault. Yes, we would rather not be at work and we won’t try very hard to hide it. But if you explain to us why this spreadsheet matters or how our actions affect future steps in the process, we will care 87% more about what we are doing. It might take a few extra minutes, but if you tell us about the big picture we will absolutely respond to that. Yes, we are capable of giving a shit.
If a rule doesn’t make sense to us, we will question it. We are most likely in a class this semester where our liberal professor urges us to challenge the status quo and break through the capitalist chains we were born into. We are not directly challenging your authority, but we have a hard time following rules we don’t understand. “Because I said so,” isn’t the best answer, but if that’s all you got, we’ll take it. (Pro tip: if “because I said so” is all you can muster, it tells us you don’t understand the rule either.)
I know I’m dangerously close to sounding like a spoiled brat with an undue sense of entitlement so typical of my generation. We will work hard, but you have to work with us. While these suggestions will help you manage the college-goers or uppity post-grads, they easily apply to anyone of any age under your managerial wing.
I am lucky enough to have Derek let me borrow his platform so I can scream and stomp it out. But some of us don’t have any recourse and feel smothered by your shoddy management. This is where our age comes into play: we don’t have families to support, we don’t mind moving, and our surrounding pop culture reminds us constantly that we only live once. So if we get fed up at work, we’ll just quit. And since you’ve treated us like dirt, we probably won’t give you any notice. The economy might be rough, but we can find another job where the pay still sucks but the management doesn’t.
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