Wednesday 18 October 2017

Millennials: 'Their overconfidence at work can look delusional'

Millennials (Stock picture)
Millennials (Stock picture)
Katie Byrne

Katie Byrne

What kind of employees do millennials make, and how is the working world adapting to meet their needs? A recruitment director, a career coach and a career management consultant weigh in.

Millennials have been dubbed the 'me-me-me' generation. Recruitment consultants and career experts, however, prefer to think of them as generation 'want-it-now'.

Gary Mullan, co-founder and recruitment director of Prosperity, Ireland's leading digital recruitment agency, says millennials can be "quite convincing when pursuing what they desire, but they are less likely to want to get into a role and earn the rewards - they tend to want it all up front".

Career management consultant Rowan Manahan, meanwhile, believes this impatience can affect their problem-solving abilities once they enter the workplace. "They just don't seem to be able to take things not working straightaway. It never seems to occur to them that they should try to go back and come at it from a different angle."

He adds that many of the millennials in today's workforce have more confidence than they do competence. "If you don't believe in yourself, then how on earth can you expect the world to believe in you, seems to be the mantra that has been inculcated into this generation," he says.

"That's great if you're seriously above average on the bell curve but if you're middle average or below, well then that confidence, from the perspective of the observer looking at you, equals delusion - and that's really unhealthy."

This unfounded confidence can lead to complacency during the recruitment process, adds Gary. "Some of them don't prepare themselves well for interview - we wonder if they are too assured of their own worth to make that effort.

"Also, we find that millennials tend to be less able to handle setbacks - when they don't get that job they desired, they often require more hand-holding and reassurance."

Rowan puts it down to their inability to accept criticism, which, he says, can often lead to discrimination and harassment complaints.

Last year, he was consulted as an independent external investigator for three incidences of bullying and harassment complaints made by millennials.

"The finding that I had to come back with was, 'You are not being bullied; you are not being victimised; you are not being singled-out; you are not being harassed. You're being managed in a job that, it turns out, you're not very good at.

"What was fascinating was the complete disconnect in terms of lack of insight on the part of the person who put their hand up and said, 'I'm being bullied'," he adds.

Long-term commitment is another hot button topic. "The biggest issue is retention - millennials are more likely to job-hop to find satisfaction than previous generations," says career coach Paul Mullan of Measurability (no relation to Gary).

However, he's quick to add that what millennials may lack in resilience and staying power, they make up for with dynamism and enthusiasm.

Gary says they are sought-after by gaming, some tech and start-up companies, as well as marketing companies and creative agencies, and says they "tend to be much nicer people, and far more positive and upbeat. This gives them a distinct advantage in client-facing roles."

Their affinity with the digital world can also make them more desirable as employees. "Social media is part of millennials' day-to-day," says Gary, "so it is easy for some of them to manage multiple platforms and, at the same time, perform in their roles."

Companies are beginning to adapt to millennials' need for freedom by offering more flexitime, project-based and remote working opportunities. Given that this generation will make up 75pc of the workforce by 2025, they may have no other option.

Prosperity.ie / rowanmanahan.com / measurability.ie

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