Impatience Can Be a Virtue, Too

More often than not technology is my best friend, but there are days I’m tempted to toss it out the window — a thought that fleetingly crossed my mind when my computer kept freezing and taking what felt like an eternity (in reality about 30 seconds) to load a page. Luckily it occurred to me that I could send out a bunch of tweets while waiting for each page to load, so this is precisely what I did — keeping my productivity, and sanity, intact.

That’s a roundabout way of admitting a big flaw of mine: impatience — a trait very commonly associated with individuals of my generation.

Even though we tend to dismiss such stereotypes, I do think there’s some truth behind this stereotype — not in a self-centered “I want the corner office now” kind of way, but instead more of an “I can’t wait around for someone to show me how to do my job better” kind of way.

And so it made perfect sense when a source I interviewed for a feature I’m working on discussed the rise of virtual mentoring relationships, which are often thought to be more productive and impactful than the traditional types of mentoring — especially by younger workers who expect results to be more immediate. So if I have a question or need career advice on the fly, I’d simply ping my mentor instead of jotting it down on a piece of paper and waiting until the next physical meeting to bring it up, anticipating a greatly reduced response time.

“[Participants of traditional mentoring] expect these relationships to produce for them over time, whereas today, especially when you speak from a generational perspective, the younger workers don’t understand that; that doesn’t fit into their worldview; it’s much too slow for them. So they will only engage in these types of knowledge-sharing relationships if they can get something out of it immediately,” my source said.

While some may call us a spoiled generation because they think we demand instant gratification, I think it’s imperative we’re all clear on where our impatience is directed. I’m confident I speak on behalf of the majority of millennials when I say we’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves and work just as hard as the next person. Do we like to be appreciated for it? Yes. Do we expect an unreasonable meteoric rise up the career ladder because of it? Absolutely not.

But in an era where technology does pretty much everything except cook us dinner, the amount of information at our disposal is virtually — no pun intended — limitless. So when it comes to performing our jobs efficiently, it’s true that we have certain expectations — be it real-time mentoring/coaching or having access to tools and resources that make our lives more efficient and help us perform our jobs faster and better.

Is that sentiment echoed by younger generations of workers in your organization? If so, how can you work — in tandem with other business leaders — to ensure you’re not alienating them?