From the Author
Patience Will Get You There Quicker
I wrote Managing the Millennials because I wanted managers to better understand the value Millennials bring to the workplace and how to best work with them. I penned Millennials@Work to help Millennials understand the challenges they would face at work as a result of just being a younger worker. My motivation for writing my most recent book, Millennials Who Manage, was to prepare them for the difficulties of transitioning into management. I am indebted to Millennials for the best years of my career. My interaction with them in the classroom inspired me to write and therefore I hope they see this latest book as my thanks to them. The last chapter in my new book is entitled Getting To The Next Level.
I wrote the final chapter as if I were in the classroom doing Q&A with my students. I enjoy lecturing on stuff that I think is important, but I am even more energized when students drive the discussion. While doing research for the book, I actually reached out to former students as well as other young professionals in an effort to learn more about their experience at work and their career development. I used a qualitative research method referred to as Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR’s roots are in the work of Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire. PAR invites people who often do not have a voice in a community to not only talk about what is important to them but to draw from their personal experience for the purpose of identifying significant topics, building theories, and interpreting data. The production of knowledge is a goal of PAR but primarily for the purpose of taking action that addresses specific problems. 1
I encourage my students in my Organizational Psychology and Nonprofit Leadership programs at Concordia University Irvine to use Participatory Action Research. Both disciplines are concerned with understanding needs, problem solving, and taking action. Our students emerge from our programs as scholar-practitioners. They learn to embrace the belief good theory informs good practice and good practice informs good theory.
Getting back to getting to the next level—what we learned from the Millennials in our study is that one of the biggest barriers to getting to the next level of career is their own lack of patience. Here is an excerpt from the book:
One of our Millennial managers commented, 'From a cognitive perspective, I know that I am relatively young and shouldn’t have such grandiose expectations of how fast I will move up, but emotionally it makes me crazy that I have to wait for waiting’s sake.'
Waiting is something Millennials are not accustomed to. They have grown up in a world in which they can get virtually anything from anywhere within 24 hours. More importantly, they have learned that they can advance at the pace they want. They master video games from level to level on their own clock and take Advanced Placement classes in high school to accelerate their education. They are—to some degree—in control of the speed of their own progress until they hit the workplace.
Patience requires the ability to see waiting as a necessary step toward a desired end. Here are three pieces of advice we learned in our research from the early wave of Millennials who are now finding themselves advancing at a much more tolerable pace: (1) Try to understand your manager’s perspective, (2) keep being persistent in your effort, and (3) consider the waiting period as time for mastering your current responsibilities. Make the wait matter.
If you consider the aforementioned three pieces of advice, they are aimed at increasing locus of control. Locus of control refers to the extent people believe they can influence or control events that happen to them. People with an external locus of control often exhibit helplessness because they explain the events in their lives as being environmental or due to the actions of others and not their own. Conversely, people with an internal locus of control believe what happens to them is the result of their own actions.2
Practicing patience can be incredibly difficult but it may be the quickest way to the next level.
1 Rodriguez, L. F., & Brown, T. M. (2009). From voice to agency: Guiding principles for participatory action research with youth. New Directions for Youth Development, 2009 (123), 19-34.
2 Rotter, J. B. (1954). Social learning and clinical psychology. New York: Prentice-Hall.