Sunday, March 20, 2016

When Millennials Run the Workplace


I have Millennials in my classrooms. So far, I don't have them in my conference rooms, lol.

At NYT, "What Happens When Millennials Run the Workplace?":
Joel Pavelski, 27, isn’t the first person who has lied to his boss to scam some time off work.

But inventing a friend’s funeral, when in fact he was building a treehouse — then blogging and tweeting about it to be sure everyone at the office noticed? That feels new.

Such was a recent management challenge at Mic, a five-year-old website in New York that is vying to become a leading news source created by and for millennials. Recent headlines include “Don’t Ban Muslims, Ban Hoverboards” and “When Men Draw Vaginas.”

“There’s 80 million millennials; we focus on the 40 that went to college,” said Chris Altchek, Mic’s 28-year-old chief executive.

But he is still working out how to manage many of the traits associated with his fellow millennials: a sense of entitlement, a tendency to overshare on social media, and frankness verging on insubordination.

Mic’s staff of 106 looks a lot like its target demographic: trim 20-somethings, with beards on the men and cute outfits on the women, who end every sentence with an exclamation point and use the word “literally” a lot.

Their crowded newsroom on Hudson Street has an aggressively playful vibe, like a middle-school fraternity house. Some ride hoverboards into the kitchen for the free snacks. Others wield Nerf dart guns or use a megaphone for ad hoc announcements. Dino, a white Maltese terrier owned by the lead designer, snuffles between desks.

Mr. Altchek is proud of the freewheeling office culture. “It helps us to have everyone speak out and best ideas rise to the top,” he said. “What that can feel like or sound like is rudeness. But I’d rather have a lot of people speaking their minds than a very controlled environment.”

But running an office made up exclusively of millennials, it turns out, is not without its snags. His philosophy was tested when Mr. Pavelski, Mic’s director of programming, requested a week off, ostensibly to attend a wake back home in Wisconsin. “I went to talk to Joel and said, ‘So sorry about your loss, take as much time as you need,’” Mr. Altchek said.

Then, several days later, he noticed Mr. Pavelski tweet a link to Medium, a popular blog for cathartic, personal essays. In a post titled, “How to Lose Your Mind and Build a Treehouse,” Mr. Pavelski wrote about feeling burned out at work and wanting to rebuild a childhood treehouse as therapy. The first line read, “I said that I was leaving town for a funeral, but I lied.”

“I was sort of taken aback,” Mr. Altchek said. “It’s not acceptable to be lied to.”

In a disciplinary meeting the next day, Mr. Pavelski’s supervisor acknowledged that he had been working grueling hours, so he was given another chance. Still, Mr. Altchek wanted to send a message. “Our feedback to him was, ‘This is not a three-strike policy, it’s a two-strike policy,’” he said...
He should have fired him on the spot. He lied. And blogged about lying. How much more insubordinate can you be?

But keep reading, in any case.