Many Millennials struggle with independent thinking, decision making and risk taking.
The customer is all set to rent a car when he notices his driver’s license has expired. How should an auto rental agency employee handle such an unexpected complication? At Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where customer service is king, the response ought to be a no-brainer: Offer to drive the customer to an office of the state department of motor vehicles to renew his license and then hand him the keys to his rental car.
But Enterprise is finding that young employees often are baffled by such situations and must consult their supervisors on how to resolve them.
“From day one on the job, we try to give our employees autonomy to think on their feet when dealing with customers,” said Marie Artim, assistant vice president of recruiting for Enterprise. “But recent college graduates are struggling with autonomy and have more trouble making decisions than our management trainees did in the past. This generation wants someone’s approval before proceeding with a decision.”
The need for explicit direction is a common characteristic of the Millennial generation. Many Millennials struggle with independent thinking, decision making and risk taking. They are especially flummoxed by unexpected, ambiguous challenges, the kind that business is all about. This tendency worries some educators and employers, who foresee a generation that can’t cope well with the sudden twists and turns of their jobs and life in general.
“They want to be right. That can be hard in business, where data are messy, decisions are complex, and there is almost never a perfect decision,” said Stacey Rudnick, director of MBA career services at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin. “[In contrast to Generation X, which] had a ‘just do it’ mentality and a bias toward action even without sufficient information, this generation seems to favor consensus and getting as much information as possible before making a decision.”
To be sure, Millennials can be quite diligent once they receive clear directions. They bring to bear their technology savvy and often can work successfully on multiple projects at once.