Just over three years ago, I was promoted and had my first millennial follower who earned was just under five years in the workforce and had a Master’s degree related to the industry we are in. I met Paul when we both worked for different companies and had met in a conference setting which his company was hosting. As we sat down and started discussing our current situations, it became clear that Paul reminded me of me at his age. He showed passion for his work and was very opinionated on topics that we discussed. I recommended him for the role in our organization that I now managed, thinking he would be a great fit.
Flash forward three years and while he has the same opinions and passion for the work, Paul can’t seem to understand what he wants to do with his future and we have regular discussions around his constantly changing hopes in dreams. Recently, he applied for a leadership role and asked me for my opinion. This is where the five-factor model of personality comes to play. The five factors are defined as Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Open to Experience, and Extraversion (PSU, n.d.). Paul is a hard-working dependable person that tends to overthink expectations in the work that he does. This leads to indecision in his actions without validation. While he is agreeable in general, his fuse is short and he takes comments the wrong way. His need for constant feedback makes him difficult to manage. The biggest factor for Paul is his emotional stability or neuroticism. This is the main area that he must overcome to become a successful leader and where my focus has been. He is very open to new experiences and has a mostly extravert personality, though sometimes exhibits times of social awkwardness which can be explained by youth an experience.
Paul is a new experience for me to lead and coach. I must be careful in my words to make sure he stays focused and motivated. His emotional stability is something that others can see and feel when dealing with them, so I often must intervene in situations so that everyone stays on the right path. In a NY post article Karol Markowicz mentions “The endless choices millennials face has also proven paralyzing. They’re the constantly-swiping-right generation. It’s always on to the next thing” (2016). While we have had many discussions about the way he thinks and feels, it is difficult to provide the real feedback he needs.
In my discussion on choosing a management and leadership path, I remain optimistic for Paul and suggest that he let more time pass and get the experience that comes with age. We talk about the high impact work experiences he gets now and to build upon those as we both look for the right opportunity for him in the future. The silver lining to this story is that it has allowed me to understand the mind of a younger generation and take a different approach to how we as leaders interact with our followers
Penn State World Campus (n.d.). Lesson 2: Trait Approach. Retrieved May 21, 2017. From https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1848443/modules/items/22421578
Markowicz, K. (2016, March 21). ‘They can’t even’: Why millennials are the ‘anxious generation’. Retrieved May 22, 2017, from http://nypost.com/2016/03/20/they-cant-even-why-millennials-are-the-anxious-generation/