The Kids Are Alright

English: Brunswick High School graduates in Br...
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I tell you, the kids these days. They’ve got an entitlement mentality. They don’t believe they should have to pay their dues. They think if they’ve done something once they’ve learned it and shouldn’t have to do it again. They get bored too easily. They’re impatient and feel they shouldn’t have to wait in line to move up the ladder. They’re impossible to manage.

Sound familiar? This is actually what we were saying around 1996 about the new crop of kids coming into the agency just out of college.

People have been complaining about “the kids” since the time of Aristotle and beyond. It’s a tired cliche and it’s kind of embarrassing.

And yet it persists. For years now, people have been raising alarms about the millennials and how to manage their supposed unreasonable expectations.

I’m not sure what they want is all that unreasonable or different than past generations — at least those of the immediate past. And I don’t think the approach to them is any different. You treat people as individuals, figure out what motivates them, develop their weaknesses, reinforce their strengths and engage in a delicate dance where both sides — management and employees — adjust and compromise.

In a couple of weeks I’m presenting to a group of young PR professionals and I’m deeply aware of the danger of coming across either as a grumpy old man or, worse, the dude who tries too hard to be cool and down with the kids.

I think I’ll be sticking to some timeless advice for how to present and package themselves and stand out in the marketplace. And if I could say something to the people they work for, I’d tell them to stop whining and start managing.