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Debunking the Myth: People Quit Bosses

(hint: they’re going to quit anyway)

In today’s transformational talk, here’s what I want to convey.

There are a lot of good reasons to leave your job:

  • Your company gets sold
  • A death in the family
  • An unhealthy or toxic environment

That sorta thing.

If you’re a millennial, the reasons get a little more fun:

  • Freelancing from a laptop for half the pay and twice the time off is fun
  • You want to travel long-term while you’re in your 20s
  • Cause you don’t feel like your company cares about you
  • Because your boss is dumb or sucks
  • It’s cramping your  Fortnite rank

Sure… I’m being a little facetious… maybe.

I think what they clearly want us to know is that they don’t prefer to park in one job for their foreseeable future and not a lot of mobility. And why should they?

With the expectation that millennials will leave their job in the next 2 years, it is a strategic advantage for us bosses to understand what they bring to the table, and where they want to go

If you can plan (and hopefully anticipate) for a 2-year commitment, you can utilize your management mojo to drive and direct the staff to either remain within your organizations (the unexpected). Or on the other hand, you can compel them to excel within your organization and gain a strong recommendation for the next step in their career.  

Instead of lamenting the 2-year expectation, an opportunist would create a plan. They’d create a Blueprint!

So here are some inferences from data that might help you.

You may be asking yourself, how do millennials develop their careers? For one, they are not as concerned about their bosses as they once were. According to Udemy, millennials care about career development more than they do about perks and pay.  Millennials and Generations Zers care more about professional development and growth much more in their employment than you would expect.

If you’re like me, you’d think that with all those Master’s Degrees, they’d be quite ready to be done with school.

The key is if a leader can see their potential and help them visualize their future, all of a sudden your employee becomes a strong candidate for management or a future member of your professional network.  

Millennials are more patient when it comes to the traditional attachments of modern life.  Millennials wait longer to get married and focus more time in their developmental years on their careers and community action. The typical ‘constraints’ of buying a home, having children and leasing a fancy car, is not the model that millennials fit into. Millennials want more mobility, both upwards and sideways.

Millennials are a cerebrally active generation. They are the high court of multi-screeners.  

Millennials are also bored.  Workers who are bored at work are twice as likely to search for another job, and meanwhile, 80% of all workers say that learning new skills would keep them more engaged at work.  Considering this, the three most important pillars of millennials workplace engagement are:

  • They are inspired by the company’s workplace and mission
  • They feel connected to their company’s boss, workplace and culture
  • They provide flexibility and diversity to inspire loyalty in the workplace
  • They feel their company cares about personal and professional development.

 The first two points above are augmented by the final bullet point.

A company that cares about professional and personal development gives millennials an opportunity to connect with their workplace and culture, and their company’s mission.

If your company is making the effort to provide employees with learning opportunities and growth, including a development of skills and expectations, then you are likely going to succeed with your millennial employees. A manager must pay attention to growth areas and potential so young employees stay engaged.   

Millennials are not satisfied with the answer of, ‘this is how it has always been’.

Remember, Millennials desire to be both vertically and horizontally mobile. In their minds, they have the capacity and desire to do more than employees of the past.  When pushed, or engaged in a particular direction, young adults will take it upon themselves to learn the skills and expand their knowledge base.

This is an era of the American workforce that is not only dictated by Instagram, but also by polymaths. These people are highly skilled, versatile and horizontally mobile.  These people are a Swiss Army Knife of knowledge.

This highly educated cohort utilizes a wide-ranging base of knowledge and interests in the workplace that will, I promise you, help your company. How long will it take you to implement?

And obviously, the burden does fall on the leaders and the experienced adults of the organization.

But for young employees, this (work) can be an intimidating prospect.

It pains me to write this, but a job is an untraditional environment for Millennials.

Part of the reason is that our universities employ conversation and critical thinking to help mold minds in a controlled environment. Meanwhile, the workplace and the ‘real world’ is not as inviting.  Speaking up, speaking out and engaging with others on a variety of interests can be scary for millennials.

So we have an obligation to teach our key players or peers, that when they take an interest in developing their teams, it will rise all boats. They need encouragement from their elders. This is why mentorship programs are vital to develop employees and traditional career paths for employees do not fit the millennial mold.  

With a brilliant flip of the script, some employers (read: check-ins) are conducting ‘stay’ interviews, as opposed to exit interviews. These coffee breaks or lunches give leaders and managers the opportunity to speak with millennial and Gen Z employees one-on-one and ask them more about personal growth and career development.  

It is also an opportunity to receive direct feedback from the young generation of workers. In these conversations, managers and leaders can become more adept and nimble to the changes in the workplace with a young generation of workers.  

Remember that youth are versatile, especially with technology, and it might be one of their best traits. They are not quitting for traditional reasons.

It is not necessarily the boss, it is not necessarily the job. It is an intersection of professional need, job quality, skill development, and personal/professional growth opportunities. And yes, sometimes it’s the bosses.

For young employees, let’s face the facts together, personal and professional growth go hand in hand.

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