Over the last three years, I have worked in over seven corporations in the Chicagoland area. I have noticed that the people that have all the decision-making power in these firms tend to be middle-aged, and they seem to be stuck in a corporate culture designed nearly thirty years ago. This is most likely because the big shots running the show have accepted the 1980’s values as their norm, and have decided to never deviate from that. From my experience with these companies, I have compiled the following list of four major practices that need to change.
1. Stop dictating my learning style.
Most of corporate America believes that shadowing is an excellent way to learn new skills, software, and work-oriented tasks. While that may be true for those that are able to learn through visual stimulation, we, Generation Y, are not duplicates of one another. High schools and colleges have observed and modified their teaching techniques over the last ten years. They changed in order to help students better grasp the concepts being taught. This is where corporations and companies have completely and utterly failed. They have stuck to their tried and true, shadow until your brain explodes and then reproduce what you saw, method.
Corporations, you need to stop dictating how and when your employees should learn. You should let them adapt to the required skills using any method that works best for them and their mindset. You should let them take breaks when they feel the need to take one, instead of giving them a set time. Your employees are HUMANS, not ROBOTS. If your trainers do not know how to teach people in the way they learn, then hire better trainers! You’re a corporation! You can afford to do so.
2. Stop telling me how I should think.
Another problem our generation often faces has to do with company culture. If you are a new hire, executives and HR want you to follow how other employees behave, socialize, and work. You are not allowed to march to the beat of your own drum, no matter how efficient your work strategy may be. If you’re honest about your thoughts, you’re often terminated. Managers tend to justify your firing with a half-assed explanation such as, “you’re just not a right fit for this company.” Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know I had to best friends with everyone to get my work done.
Corporations, if we tell you who we are during the interview, and you don’t think we’re going to fit in with your company, then please don’t hire us. We are not programmable computers that you can code as you wish. We have ideas for your corporation and plans for our lives. You shouldn’t shut us down just because we’re new, and therefore considered stupid in your rule book. We have our own views on certain subjects and we shouldn’t be afraid or restricted from expressing them. You need to learn to think outside the platitudinous box, in which your minds have been trapped for quite a few decades.
You claim your corporation has an “open-door” policy, but from where we stand, those are just words. What you’re really saying is “shut up, do what we say, act like everyone else, or we’ll let you go.” Why sugar coat things? Just say that, so we can move on to another opportunity, instead of wasting our time trying to please you.
3. Stop being anal-retentive about texting and using the Internet.
This one is my favorite! I cannot tell you the number of times that some executive, walking past my desk, has told me to limit the use of my phone.
Can we all just take a minute here and let it sink in that it is 2016, we are operating at peak technology, and companies are trying to limit our ability to be connected to the world. They think that if we are using our phone on company time, then we will be less productive; “we’re not paying you to use your phone,” they say. Newsflash! Millennials work much better when they aren’t surrounded by overbearing bosses that watch and criticize all their actions.
Corporations, you are making us less productive by micro-managing our time at work. If you would let us be ourselves and work the way we best function, it would probably increase our work ethic. Most of us cannot keep idle or focus on one task for too long. We need to take breaks, check our phones, scroll through a couple minutes of social media, before returning to work tasks. We need to get up, get coffee, share a laugh with a fellow co-worker, and then complete what we were working on. This is how our generation functions, and you need to get with the times! As long as we are getting the job done in an effectual way, you should not have a problem with our process. Hell, I’m scrolling through Twitter, on and off, while writing this damn article, because it helps me collect my thoughts better!
4. Stop being condescending and hypocritical.
Many administrators at companies will play a game on their phone, talk to their spouse, text a friend, and then scroll through social media on their computer, while telling their assistants that these things are restricted at work. Condescending superiors is more of a recent problem that I have come across. They think that their title somehow makes them better than their juniors. Yes, they are in charge, and yes they distribute the work, but they should be a team player, not a dictator. Speaking to your employee as if they are a disobedient child is not okay.
“Just wear something professional you know? Nothing low cut or too short, we wouldn’t want the men to stare at you,” said the human resources manager, who, by the way, was wearing a low cut work dress, with her cleavage showing.
Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Practice what you preach, Ms. Manager, because leadership holds you accountable, and your followers won’t do as you say, they will do as you do.
Also, why should I care what the men think of my outfit? I was not aware this was something I had worry about in a safe workplace.
Corporations, stop telling new hires and subordinates to be one way if your directors don’t follow the same rules. Please tell your executives to be respectful and cooperative when delegating tasks to their team. Disrespecting someone just because you have the authority to do so is not right, and your corporation will suffer for it. Generation Y does not tolerate being mistreated in any relationship, work or otherwise, and we have no problem walking away from a job if we are unhappy. You should know by now that Millennials regard joy and purpose much higher than salary, and they will leave a position if it is not keeping them content.
5. Stop judging based on race and level of attractiveness.
As we all are quite aware, there are numerous human resources laws and by-laws that prevent most corporations from exhibiting prejudices against race, sex, ethnicity, orientation, age, etc. Statistics force companies to hire a certain percentage of each ethnicity so they can receive particular benefits from that diversity. As this is a sensitive topic, the following are examples of what I have witnessed:
While interviewing for risk management company a few months back, I was called in three times, a 45-minute run each way. I spent over four hours just driving for this job, because they were unable to make a decision on me, but they told my recruiter that everyone was “crazy about me” and wanted me on board. At the third interview, I met their top executive, who was an older caucasian man. He looked me over once and I could see from his face that he was already not a fan. He then proceeded to go through the motions of talking to me and asking me questions, but he would never look at me and he was not interested in listening to what I had to say. After I got home, my recruiter told me that the company decided to put me “on hold,” and interview other candidates, and that if they did not find someone new, they would get back to me. I later found out that the firm hired someone caucasian after two interviews the following week.
Right after the above, I interviewed at an investment company. They said they really liked me and would like me to come back the next day to meet a few other managers before signing the new hire paperwork. Afterwards, they contacted my recruiter and told her that they went with someone else because my resume was not printed on thick enough paper. Like, really? I looked up this corporation on http://www.glassdoor.com and they only had one review: “they are biased against latinos and blacks.” Granted, I am not either of those ethnicities, but more often than not, those who do not like the above two types of people, aren’t really a fan of my kind, either.
Another point that merits being mentioned: many firms that I’ve come across judge their potential and current employees based on the “pretty factor.” Clothing style, hair and makeup, and weight are all components of this factor, that companies subconsciously use to decide your worth. Overweight people, women more than men, aren’t given opportunities because they do not fit the company’s “look.”
Therefore, corporations, please stop judging your candidates and employees based on the color of their skin, the size of their pants, and the quality of their makeup. You aren’t trying to date the person you’re hiring, you’re trying to fill a need at your company. Not everyone can look like the often idolized thin white woman or the buff white man, people come in all shapes and sizes, and potential opportunities should be determined by effort, intellect, ability, and sometimes personality.