Several weeks ago, some members from my team asked me to be the final “sign-off” on hiring an individual they felt strongly about for a specific role. During the interview I asked how long the person felt he would be in the position, to which he replied, “I value longevity. I see myself in the role for at least two to three years.”
I tweeted the interaction with the hashtag “Millennial” followed by another tweet that we were hiring the person because of his passion, skill, and honesty. Three thoughts from the interaction about hiring a Millennial:
1. Longevity is a subjective term.
Before I was born, my father moved with my mother to the New Orleans area where he began his career as a civil engineer for Monsanto. Until I graduated high school, I lived a few miles from my Dad’s work, and he graciously provided for our family by working his entire career as a civil engineer for Monsanto. With integrity, he worked hard and continually honed his craft in the same role for the same company. That, for many, is longevity.
I learned a lot from my father about work ethic and offering your best, but I have not spent the last two decades in the same role or place. Few from my generation [Generation X] would quantify longevity as “the same role for your entire life,” and few from my generation will stay in the same role/place. In other words, longevity means different things to a Boomer and an Xer. And different things still to a Millennial.
If you expect every Millennial you hire to stay in the role for many years, you are going to be continually frustrated and disappointed. You will get many benefits from hiring a Millennial (energy, perspective, savvy, creativity, etc.), but your definition of longevity may not be one of them.
2. Not all roles require it.
I understand desiring longevity, and in many roles it is wise and important to unashamedly ask for it. I get it. In many roles longevity is very important. But if your framework for hiring is ensuring every person on the team is going to be in the same role for X number of years, your team will likely miss out on the valuable contribution of many Millennials.
3. Know which ones do.
What roles require longevity? If the role is deeply connected to shepherding people or strategy, then longevity is important. If the role is responsible for overarching strategy, longevity is important. A constant change in leaders who dictate strategic direction can leave an organization in chaos. If the role is responsible to shepherd people or develop leaders, longevity is critical because discipleship and leadership development is a long and arduous process. If the role is primarily focused on execution or limited in scope to a particular discipline, longevity is a blessing, but not a necessity.
When you know which roles require longevity, you can emphasize that during the interview process. Just be sure you spell out what definition of longevity you are operating from. Millennials who are believers don’t lack integrity but they are operating from a different working definition of “longevity” so clarity is essential. Be upfront in defining expectations.