In the South you find that millennials and entitlement lag light years behind their West Coast contemporaries…
On my recent flight from Detroit, I spent my layover with *Britt (name changed to protect the unwitting), a 20-something, hard-working, career sales woman. Britt changed jobs when the management position she was offered fell through. Since her employer had already handed her territory to someone else, she decided to move on. After spending a year helping her family business, Britt reentered the corporate world this past January. Times were good, and Britt found herself with multiple offers. Young age and some business naivety led Britt to her current role, where she was offered $20,000 more in base than the next highest offer in front of her. This, she explained, is why she took a job that was best described as a nightmare.
Britt was on my flight with *Bob, her 60-something colleague who joined Company Evil (this is not a generous face-saving poetic move. I actually didn’t catch the real name) when Britt did. Bob admitted that he took this role despite obvious red flags, because at his age he felt that “any job was a privilege.”, after being laid off from a competitive company.
When I first inserted myself into their discussion (polite language for, “while eavesdropping”), I heard Bob trying to help Britt with simple industry vernacular. Despite having two months with Company Evil already, Bob was providing the only guidance Britt had received to date. That, and the 2-day training from which they were returning was apparently the most she’d been taught to date.
Now, full disclosure: when I first started, eh hem, “adding value” to their discussion, I was irritated that yet another snot-nosed 20-something (when did I get this old?) was bitching about what her company owed her. I pre-judged her for not knowing the industry lingo or having the ability to fake it until she makes it. She only enforced my beliefs when I asked her a few questions and found out that her old company had done months of training. She seemed put off, if not downright huffy, by the lack of formal training Company Evil offered, by comparison.
Admittedly, I was on Team Company (not Company Evil, just Company), and not on Team Britt, when I first asked, “How big was your last company?” “How much training did this company promise you?” “Isn’t it your own reputation at stake if you don’t know things?” “Don’t you have to learn the industry yourself?” With jetlag, insomnia, and a cocktail fueling me, I was ready to tell off this millennial for the benefit of all pre-millennials everywhere. My Team allegiance slowly shifted when Bob and Britt began telling a fairly united narrative about Company Evil. First off, Britt – and several of her peers – are being paid considerably more than Bob. He humbly admitted to having negotiated poorly, due to desperation. Both had no idea of any specifics of their compensation structure. “We only get paid once a month” they explained. To be clear, they had only been paid once, or maybe twice when I invaded their airport conversation. Neither had been given a paystub or any other document explaining the mystery deposit.
As their story continued, both explained that Britt had been ridiculed and shamed on team sales calls. Again, upon hearing this I had no reason to know whether this was due to her poor performance, or proof of them working for a truly appalling boss. But, they were both in lockstep agreeing that she was told she was not expected to master the (fairly technical) subject matter before six months; yet she was being chastised and made fun of for not knowing technical terminology? Even more alarming, both 60-year old Bob and Millennial Britt indicated that bizarrely their sales goals included “upselling existing clients” yet Company Evil’s CEO refused to provide client data.
All this to say?
Here was my advice to Britt: I advised her to act like a non-millennial; act like a child of the 1990s – who fought his/her way through unjust and shoddy experiences like hers. Act like any of us who genuinely care about succeeding and pride ourselves in a job well done. Figure out the learning lesson and get the hell out of there. Should you give up? Maybe. If the company, industry, and learning opportunity are either non-existent or are outweighed by the negative experience, get out. If you can tell before you even have to list it on your resume? Get out.
Did Britt make a bad decision going to Company Evil? Yes. Yes she did. But, unlike her West Coast contemporaries (blah blah exaggeration blah blah overly generalized, blah blah) she has been genuinely trying to succeed and is more than willing to work hard. She knows her learning style – but perhaps failed to interview her prospective employer to ensure that they provided this type of learning.
Britt can go one of two ways. She can rest on her martyrdom and tell any and all about Company Evil, and all she’s endured. Or, she can do what we did in our 20s and chalk this one up to a bad decision – a learning opportunity – and get out now.
My last piece of advice to any employee — if you do choose to stay put? Time to make peace with that decision, and join Team Company. Badmouthing your own employer is badmouthing your own decision-making. Oh, and don’t make a life altering decision after a long flight or one too many cocktails.