104. An Open Letter Signed A Millenial

I am not going to do it just to help you get a new Merc …

I come from the baby boomer end of the generational spectrum and have always been fascinated by the different approaches to work taken by different generations – sometimes bordering on, what to me, seems a totally alien and different work ethic.

My last article drew out some thoughts about what I wish I had known then (i.e. when I started my career) about being a great employee.

Last month I stumbled across an article published in Forbes which starts to articulate the other side of the coin. Elizabeth McLeod skilfully condenses the thoughts and aspirations and motivations of some of the younger people in work in “an open letter to management”.

In this blog, I have again tried to draw out the main points – well, the ones that resonated most with me.

Some of the most successful businesses are filled with Millennials who are on fire for their jobs.

If one stops to consider this – over half the workforce will be millennials by 2025.

So attracting and retaining millennial talent is a burning issue. And many organisations struggle to do this successfully.

All the more important to take this very seriously.

And what better way than reviewing the “take-aways” from an open letter signed off by “A Millennial” detailing what they want from their jobs and gives some pretty firm pointers to leaders to help them “ignite the energy of a thousand suns”.

An Open Letter

All is going well and then 6 months in we drop the bomb – we’re quitting!

Now, we know the stereotypes for us millennials:

  • We never settle down
  • We’re drowning in debt from useless degrees
  • We refuse to put our mobile phones down

As bosses, you are not wrong; but pointing out our irresponsible spending and fear of commitment will not solve anything.

YOU NEED US – not least because we not only understand, but have mastered, social media.

4 Specific points:

  1. You tolerate poor performance – I am a high achiever so you letting others coast is debilitating; poor performers drag us all down to their level
  2. ROI is not enough for me – I want to make a difference to our customers … and here I am listening to you banging on about profitability and cashflow. So talk my language and show me how to make a difference to customers
  3. Free grub is good but does not motivate me per se – give me a purposeful culture anytime
  4. It’s OK to get personal – treat me like a number and I will return the favour; I’ll start living for 5 o’clock on Friday. I will probably have a drunken epiphany and realise my life is worth more than this. I will prove your assumptions right – and leave … or worse still, I’ll quit and stay!

This will not be good for either of us.

You need to know this:

I believe I can change the world.

Show me that the work we do here matters.

I’ll do all you ask – grunt work and all.


I am not going to do it just to help you get a new Merc.

The punchline? “I’ll give you everything I’ve got, but I need to know it makes a difference to something bigger than your bottom line.”

Have a look at the original article here

I would love to hear how this resonates (or contradicts your own experiences). Do please drop me, Mark Nicholls, a line.

Posted in People and Leadership.