Case Study: Do You Know What Work Looks Like?

Previously, I’ve written case studies about clients of mine, but this week I thought I’d take a look at my own career history as a Millennial to examine a common problem in communication between the generations: as the world changes, so do appearances.

Specifically, “work” looks very different now than it did 20 years ago, and it will likely look very different in the future than it does now.

The problem is that many people in high positions of authority believe that work will always look exactly the same as it did when they first entered the workforce – and penalize those who have adapted their work habits to new social norms.

My own history is a case in point.

Stop Messing Around on Company Time

In my former life, I was in the finance sector, and one of my first jobs involved cold calling to generate leads for my company.

If you’ve ever been in sales, you know that one of the most important goals for your career is to build valuable relationships. You have to know the right people, be liked by the right people, and be available to do favors for the right people in the hopes that they’ll return the favor one day – hopefully soon.

I took the “relationships are everything” credo to heart, and I worked hard to develop the important relationships that I knew would be essential to bringing my company new business.

The problem was that my relationship-building looked an awful lot to my employer like messing around on the company dime.

How We Communicate Now

Here’s an example: I was told that I was texting on my phone all day instead of working.

This was true. I had been texting a lot. The thing is: those texts weren’t gossiping with my friends about the latest season of The Bachelor. 

The texts were all work-related! They were pitching potential new clients on the benefits of working with our company, getting introduced to new contacts, and providing useful information to cold calls-turned-leads.

Why wasn’t I making these communiques on my company phone, as my boss expected? Here’s a news flash: the vast majority of people of ALL generations currently find it easier to communicate via text.

If I called an important lead or contact, I wouldn’t get a response for weeks. I’d have to wait until that person felt they could spare 15 minutes for a phone call – which was almost never.

Replying to a text message is perceived as infinitely easier and less time-consuming – even when it actually takes more time to swap texts back and forth.

The bottom line? If I texted, I turned leads into clients. If I stuck to the company phone, my leads went cold.

Are You Penalizing Millennials For Working Smarter?

When all you’re looking at is the method, not the results, you might be undervaluing Millennials simply because the way they work doesn’t look familiar to you.

Methods don’t cross generations – but results do. Make sure you’re looking at the right metrics before you decide whether your Millennials are shirking or hardworking.

Paige Cornetet