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Everything Is Not Fit For Print

A very raw criticism of a recent Forbes article on Millenials

Here is my take on an interesting article posted recently in Forbes - Millennials, This Is Why You Haven't Been Promoted

The article I'm reviewing has some valid points. However, several of them are so very misguided that I was compelled to write this post.

I don't often take this active of a role as a critic, but I see so much bad advice out there that an article dedicated to critical reading alone would not do this topic justice. Critical reading and listening, are two essential skills that need to be practiced and developed.

It is my hope that a dissection of this article provides a good example of how to critically read an article.

Point #1 - You Overwork.

I could not disagree more with the first point. Working long hours is not a liability. The author and her references suggest overworking diminishes your value. This is ridiculous. They are totally missing the point. I respect someone who puts in the hours. However quantity is irrelevant. I pay employees to get results. If you work long hours and do not get results - that is a liability. 

However, I expect younger workers to put in more hours because they are learning, lack experience and sometimes need more time to achieve the same result. Overall, I appreciate a young professional who wants to accelerate their learning by putting in more time. The issue here is RESULTS. Any amount of work without results can be a liability.

The lack of focus on results and the extreme focus on effort is one of the big complaints people have with the Millennial generation - or the "participation trophy" generation. Effort is important, but people like me pay for results.

That is not to say we should revert to a Machiavellian culture where the ends justify the means (if that means nothing to you - you were not paying attention in Literature class in high school). Ethical behavior is, and always will be, important. 

But effort without results is paramount to a participation trophy - a practice that should have faded away some time around middle school.   Point number one in the author's article should have been focused on RESULTS.

Point #2 - You Are Incurious

I think this is the most important point in the article. I couldn't agree more. Executives like me want young workers to be curious. If you are not asking questions, you are perceived as being a "know-it-all" or a "blind follower."

Neither of these perceptions adds value to your stock if you are gunning for a promotion. 

Remember, questions are the key to intelligence. Ask questions! You should always want to know why something works that way.

The fastest way to make an executive like me interested in you is to ask a good question.  And sometimes that question is as simple as - Why did you do that?

From my experience, this is an observed liability of the Millennial generation. All credit to the author on this point.

Point # 3 - You Are Agreeable

This is a totally stupid simplification of a somewhat valid point. Pushovers don't get ahead - they never have and they never will.

However, being agreeable is a strong positive. Being disagreeable is what gets you fired.

I laughed when I read this point. Are they suggesting you should be disagreeable? Ridiculous!

I have trouble understanding the point the author wants to make here.  Perhaps her focus should have been on not being a pushover - and that has to do more with taking a position and being comfortable critically defending your stance.  That has nothing to do with being agreeable.

I see too many young professionals read an article like this and change their behavior in unnatural and counter-productive ways.  "I'm going to go into work tomorrow, be less agreeable and get that promotion I've been wanting!"

My advice here is that you need to critically think about everything you read. Just because it is in Forbes doesn't mean it is gospel.

Point #4 - You Are Untrained

The point the author makes on communications training is spot-on. That's why we spend so much time on communications in ClassAct. How you communicate is critical. More importantly, how you are perceived through your communication style is of paramount importance.

Speech patterns, communication face to face, non-verbals are all weak points for most Millennials.  

That is why you should consider ClassAct training!

Point #5 - You Are Clingy

I’m ambivalent on this point and the author's presentation of the point being made. I don’t think "clingy-ness" is a pattern of Millennials in general. I have found that insecure employees  seek approval cross all generations.

The author is correct that needy behavior and the constant desire for validation diminish your opportunities for promotion.  I also agree that the desire for constant feedback can be a liability if you are not comfortable doing anything alone. 

Think about it this way. I don’t mind if you ask questions -  that says you are curious and want to learn. However, if you can never do anything alone, do I have to hire two of you and pay two salaries to get a job done? Nobody is worth that much.

I don’t necessarily call this clingy - I think it is more linked to a lack of self-confidence, which transcends all generations and is never attractive - especially when it comes to promotions.

Clingy is a poor choice of words. The author's point on results is lost in describing the behavior as clingy. The problem is self-confidence.  

She should put more emphasis on understanding what criteria are being used to measure success so that you can promote successful results upon completion of a task.  And when you measure your own success you simultaneously increase your self-confidence!

Feedback is truly a gift, but soliciting feedback when no progress has been made is a sure sign of low self-confidence and low leadership potential.

Point #6 - You Are Alone

This article makes me want to cry.  Introverts have NEVER done well with promotions. 

If you want to keep to yourself and work independently - How are you management material?

And HOW IN THE WORLD is this a Millennial issue? This has been an issue for all time.

Learn To Critically Read

This article is a great example of two possible scenarios:

  1. How to write an article to get readers - use the word Millennial
  2. How to write an article based 100% on your feelings with no regard for facts, experience or history.   Even though the author references her facts - the Hartford Study - I find it implausible to draw the conclusions she drew from the study.  

This article is clearly written by someone who has little workplace experience as a manager, leader or decision maker - especially when it comes to spotting and promoting potential leadership candidates.

My apologies to the author for my unregulated criticism. Please be careful about how you interpret what you read. Even great publications like Forbes publish garbage like this. For that reason alone I want you to read this article and pay attention to my comments. I want you to learn to critically think through the amount of poorly constructed advice that is out there.

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