Last week’s post — Open Letter to Millennials — lit up like a rocket. Thank you all for the re-tweets and the truly thoughtful (if not always nice) comments.
One of the points that seemed to polarize Millennial readers was in this statement:
… stay put for a while. I am talking 3 – 5 years, at least. There is no such thing as a perfect fit. You must create the perfect fit. This is your apprenticeship period. It is supposed to suck. There are supposed to be crummy days when you feel under-appreciated. Such days will occur no matter who signs your paycheck.
Many commenters felt that this was unreasonable, either because 3 – 5 years sounded too onerous to a new grad, or because they felt it removed the Employer’s responsibility to create a rewarding culture. I believe at least one commenter suggested that, “Loyalty is for suckers.” (Really? I hope we never find ourselves in a foxhole together, chum.)
So I’d like to clarify, and offer examples.
First, the clarification: it is up to the employer to offer competitive compensation and a satisfying work environment. Period. However, no employer will be able to offer competitive compensation and a satisfying work environment every single day, for every single employee.
So my point in last week’s post was to suggest that employees who encounter a rut or rough spot try to see it through, rather than throw in the towel.
That doesn’t mean “shackle yourself to the desk,” it means, “make sure you calmly alert the agency to your issues — and be a little patient as they suss out the solutions.” It won’t always work out. But it may be worth the attempt. That is Loyalty.
What are the benefits of Loyalty?
I’ll let some of SHIFT’s employees speak for themselves…
A vice-president-in-the-making, Danielle Mancano (a just-under-the-wire Millennial), has been a SHIFTer for 6 years. For the first year, to be honest, Danielle was underappreciated. It was not a perfect fit. It kinda sucked for her at SHIFT.
Most people would have quit. How (and WHY?) did Danielle MAKE a perfect fit for herself at SHIFT?
In my experience, most people who enter the PR industry are very Type-A, strive-for-perfection employees. I am no exception to this rule. I excelled in high school and college. I was used to being good at everything. When I started my PR career and didn’t perform well right away — trust me, I thought about quitting.
In fact I thought about quitting: Every. Single. Day.
Why was this job — this career I chose — so flippin’ difficult?
When I screwed up, opportunities were taken away from me and my confidence withered. I stopped putting myself out there and in turn, prevented myself from learning. When things shifted internally and I was placed on a new team, I promised myself I would start on a new path and speak up when I had questions or new ideas.
I finally started sharing, and found that people valued what I had to say. So, I continued talking and asking questions until things finally clicked for me. I stopped being afraid to give recommendations to clients; I stopped being afraid to be myself at work. When I let my personality show, I allowed myself to be part of SHIFT.
I could have succumbed to the niche that was originally designed for me and kept quiet. But that’s not who I am. I refused to leave before proving myself. In the process, I became more vocal and became part of SHIFT’s culture: by that point I couldn’t walk away. Had I given up, I would have missed the opportunity to be among such smart and talented people and to enjoy a growing career path.
And here’s Gen-Xer Catherine Allen, a VP at SHIFT. When Catherine departed on maternity leave a few years ago, there was a whole lot of flux at the Agency. I told her when she left that her job would absolutely be waiting for her when she got back — but that I could not guarantee she’d come back to the same team.
And indeed, I was more right than usual. In her absence, Catherine’s ENTIRE TEAM was disassembled and folded into several other existing teams (long story.) So after having built up her empire, Catherine returned to scorched earth.
Most people would have quit. How (and WHY?) did Catherine MAKE a perfect fit for herself at SHIFT?
I was a little disheartened at first, sure. I assumed it was my existing team and accounts that defined me as a valuable employee. That wasn’t the case – it was the skill set of PR planning, account management and team guidance that SHIFT valued. The Agency simply wanted to use those skills in a different way.
Instead of focusing on what was taken away, I chose to focus on what was given to me: an attractive blank slate and full senior management support to design my future.
Why look elsewhere? I had a growth opportunity right here with amazing mentors who believed in me. And unlike a new job, there was no stigma of needing to prove myself.
I fully enjoy my new team and our rewarding account work. But there’s an added flipside I wouldn’t have imagined three years prior. I get to watch, with a twinkle in my eye, former teammates flourish in new SHIFT roles.
Loyalty (on both of our sides) paid off. Staying the course allowed me to create the job I wanted to have, and to more quickly accelerate my career growth. It was hard, yes, but gave me the opportunity to do things my way.
(For the record, Catherine now runs one of the largest and most profitable teams in the Agency. Again.)
There’s something to be said for sticktoitiveness.
All that said, gang, I’d leave you with this: follow your heart. If the job just plain old SUCKS, get another one. If several jobs IN A ROW suck, get a new career.
Try to love what you do.
Posted on: April 27, 2010 at 9:18 am By Todd Defren