Dear Young Professionals,
I hate to pick on you because it is so cliché but you really deserve it so here goes:
Where does your workplace confidence come from? Do you really think that your philosophy major and astronomy minor from a mid-ranking college prepared you for the workplace? Day two on the project and day two into your corporate life and you’re already dispensing process improvement advice on account of your “fresh perspective”. Are you serious? Let’s get real, you don’t know jack about jack. You have no perspective and your chickenshit degree is completely irrelevant. You know how I know that? I know because I’ve walked down the same path you arrogant little twerps.
A few weeks ago, I transitioned the menial part of my work to this fresh out of college kid. During our two transition planning meetings he had no questions and told me that he felt like he had a great handle on things. Apparently, he had even identified ways to improve some of the things I had done. A bold statement. Interesting. Within hours he had messed everything up royally and had the client in a panic. The following morning, the client called me (the adult) extremely upset and when I calmed her down, she started asking WTF is wrong with the new kid. A good question indeed.
Not too long ago I was assigned a new analyst to mentor. You know what that fool asked me on day one? “How do I get promoted?” Promoted!? Promoted!!!??? You just fucking started! Incensed by his question I responded curtly: “Learn how to do your current job first”.
It gets better. This same character would routinely run out of gas on his way to work. About once a quarter I’d see this dunce walking down the highway carrying a gasoline can. He’d eventually saunter into work around 1030 AM reeking of gasoline and failure.
I had another analyst who may have been a cool/slick kid in college. This clown decided that we’re boys and started talking to me like we’re out at a bar shooting the shit……. Let’s set some boundaries here: I don’t know you and I don’t give a FUCK about you. We can be boys after you grind and prove your value for 18 months. I’ll gladly take you out for cocktails then. For now, button up your demeanor and your attitude. Punk
When I first started in the corporate world, I was scared of everybody and everything. I was deferential. I listened a lot more than I talked. I asked a lot of questions. I was thorough and meticulous in my work. Sadly, humility has gone the way of the Dodo and this young crop of “talent”, for the most part, just doesn’t cut it. Maybe daddy told Billy that he was special and born a winner too many times. Maybe his teachers gave him good grades that he didn’t earn. Who knows, but for some reason these 20-something year olds come out of college and grad school thinking they walk on water. They challenge me and even people two levels above me.
Here’s a golden rule, challenge and talk back no more than once every two months. There’s a hierarchy here, chief, and you’re at the very bottom. If I (4 levels above you) and my boss (5 levels above you) tell you to dig a ditch and then fill it back up again, run and get a shovel and don’t ask questions. Dig that shit with vigor and enthusiasm. If you’re a prodigy, a savant, absolutely brilliant, we’ll pick up on that quickly and move you up the ranks and make sure your voice is heard. But until that happens, assume that you don’t know enough to opine or challenge anybody. Remember, every phrase you utter that isn’t a question directly relevant to the menial task we’ve assigned you is a missed opportunity on your end; a missed opportunity to SHUT UP.
Socrates famously said: “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Apparently the philosophy department at Wooster College didn’t feature this gem in their curriculum. Instead, I get to “develop” a group of brats who all see themselves as the next Elon Musk. Unlike these future business magnates though, I suspect that Elon never ran out of gas on his way to work.