My first Saturday job was a real joy to me, for a while – I worked eight hours shucking vegetable barrows out onto the pavement outside the local grocer, and I got paid £1 an hour to do it.

For someone whose paper round had paid £4 a week to get up at 6am and spend an hour cycling the snowy streets every weekday, this seemed like a cushy job.

But offer me that job today………

And that’s what young British Millennials are increasingly saying – they don’t want to be spending hours with vegetables. They want to be on X-factor!

But I repeat myself.

But this is a serious problem – modern young Brits say they don’t want a boss, they want a coach. A mentor. Someone that will lead by example.

Sounds suspiciously like they want me to move the veg again.

Let me be clear – I spent a year doing that before my “skills” enabled me to trade up for a job behind the counter talking to punters.

A year later I bought a decent set of clothes and started selling houses.

A year after that, I was able to get a job as a junior headhunter (recruitment, not cannibalism) and my career was off and running – in four short years I had graduated from vegetable rodeo to sitting behind a desk in my own little office, talking on the phone all day.

No more splinters. No more slipping over in the slush. No more clips round the ear from a fat old drunken grocer. I had made it!

But the vegetables down at the greengrocers still needed to be trundled into place. Every weekend I would drive past in my brand new car and watch a sullen teenager get a clip round the ear from fat old Dave, and I would smile – I felt like Richard Gere at the end of Officer and a Gentleman, watching the leathery old gunnery sergeant telling the new recruits how queer they are.

Today, the youngsters that I manage are insisting that they don’t want to be TOLD what to do – that’s demeaning. They want to be shown, and coached, and mentored. By which they mean they want me to work alongside them, with my sleeves rolled up, so they can feel not like employees, but like budding entrepreneurs paying for practical lessons in “how to do a job”.

They are narcissists.

And unfortunately, your modern narcissistic Millennial doesn’t react in a mature fashion when told to get on with it. They may SAY breezy things like “You don’t know until you ask” but then when given a firm No they react like you’ve pissed in their pocket.

So what will modern employers do?

Sam Vaknin says that the way to deal with narcissists is to abandon them, and I think that’s what happening.

So businesses will stop employing twats, and the older workers will find it easier and easier to keep working. Employers will factor in how much it costs to have surly Millennials constantly churning through their businesses, and realise it’s better to have a grey-haired worker who will knuckle down, be polite, and won’t expect to be “mentored”

And a generation of Millennials will suffer a hysteris of what little skills they have, will become unemployable, and will grow fat and depressed in their parents’ basement.

And yet I’m not worried about who will pay my pension – I’ll still be employable at 70 at this rate.

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  1. No, there was plenty of narcissism back then; young people are naturally self-centered until they get some real schooling. And there is plenty of discipline among youths today, notably among those who have spent two years in the military, or four years on a college sports team. Not even the epidemic of moral relativism among politicians is really unprecedented. Modern bosses cannot box one’s ear, but apprenticeships and even internships are part of growing up, if we don’t regulate them out of existence. They all mentor, including teaching the mentees that they don’t always get the mentoring as gentle as they want it.

    As for finding new people to steal from, to pay the pension money that was stolen from us: Ponzi made it work, didn’t he?

  2. Spoke to a bona fide millennial in a pub just after xmas. He’d just lost his job. Manual labour from what i could gather but he’d gone to the boss after two months and said that he’d had some ideas about the business and could he have a meeting to show him some designs. Boss set a meeting, but this guy didn’t get to show him the designs before he was let go. I was touched the guy really had thought that’s the way it worked and i guess now and then, right time, right person, right business, right idea, right boss it does, but mostly it doesn’t. Ah well you can’t teach this stuff, they/ we have to learn it and learn it he has. Though it will probably take a few for the retelling to change its emphasis from capitilist exploitation and callousness to ah the innocence of youth.

  3. I’m reliably informed that I’m a millennial, despite being 36, so let me tell you what’s happening when we ask for ‘mentoring’, or, at least, the reason I would do and have done it.

    What I want is a better sense of community – rather than a hierarchical system where it is my place to feel inferior to those ‘above’ me, I would prefer it if it is recognised that we are simply at different stages in our careers, or paths or whatever. Therefore what I would like is to feel we are all working towards some common goal, and to understand that goal. A better understanding comes from seeing how this stage of the process fits in with the rest. That sort of lesson can only come from those who see the bigger picture and is certainly best taught by them. When I want to go out on my own, as it should be assumed I will want to one day (you did, why wouldn’t I?), I will then be better equipped for the challenge. Had I simply done the job for wages paid without being educated about the system, all I would have to show is a very slightly bigger bank balance and more wrinkles, because not only do you not want to give me the best chance to do what you did by educating me on the job, you also don’t want to pay me very much. Which, frankly, doesn’t make me keen to show loyalty or be happy.

    Now, I’m sure you’ve got some hilarious retort something along the lines of that you didn’t have mentors to hold your hand and you still managed it so we could just as well learn like that. But we realise that we can learn from your mistakes, and that is a better strategy in business. We want to work smarter, and in the majority of cases just as hard. We also realise that our chances of owning property in a place we happen to like or work in is minuscule, and the way you went about it isn’t a path open to us. This means we are forced to do everything smart if we ever want the same level of security, convenience and satisfaction that your generation enjoys by default. And all this whilst being told left right and centre that we’re a lesser people by virtue of when we were born.

    • I’ll give it a go.

      Being a Millennial has costs and benefits. Sure, Millennials can’t afford houses right now and have to rent.

      But house prices are the consequence of the huge amount of demand brought forward from the future by the enormous credit complex, and the fringe benefit has been a lifestyle that should not have been available for another twenty years. You’ve grown up with stuff that your children should have grown up with. You should be on your first mobile phone, not your tenth. Your tech savvy is therefore a gift to you from the previous generation, though admittedly it’s an inadvertent gift due to their greed and incompetence.

      So I don’t feel very sorry for you – they got cheap houses and you got better skills and tools.

      However, on to your main point – the previous generation should now assist you in your desire to learn from their errors and prosper from them.

      Except you don’t seem to recognise that it requires the previous generation to work harder, to provide you with benefits they never enjoyed – you accept they were not mentored, but wish them to work harder so that you can be?

      After all, it’s a lot easier telling someone just to do as you say than sitting and patiently explaining all the reasons WHY. Talk to a parent about that one.

      Their agenda is merely to get the veg moved, not divert effort into developing you into smarter workers, especially when the eventual beneficiary is likely to be their competitors. And they certainly don’t have the time and energy to have a meeting and explain to you why the veg needs moving, on the off-chance you have a valuable contribution to make about whether there might be a more effervescent way to do the work.

      You seem to want others to work harder so you can work smarter.

      And why do Millennials believe they are entitled to such preferential treatment, when no previous generation in human history received it?


      Millennials have been told all their lives that they are special, and so behave as if they are starring in a movie being made about them, in which they play the title role.

      When asked to move the veg, they ask “What’s my character’s motivation”?”

      Having said all that, I accept that Millennials have been given a raw deal, but it’s not the one they think. Their lives are easy, but still harder than they were told to expect.

      You were fed a level of expectation that could not be met – the previous generation assured you that you could be Batman, but are now refusing to be Robin.

  4. Paul- This was a 21 year old who wanted to be an artist but the owner really just needed someone to lug heavy things about. No amount of pleading for community would’ve moved those things from a to b nor got the other person to re-route their resources to turning him into an artist. Thinking about it some more it’s actually good it only took him two months to realise that both their interests did not align and so become free to try to develop himself elsewhere.

    “we’re a lesser people by virtue of when we were born” well you should tell those people do bugger off. It’s a strange case because the environment is different (it’s always different) but the fundamentals of growing up, turning potential to experience and increase productivity are the same.
    So a 6o year old may see a 20 year old stepping on a rake and getting bashed in the face. The 60 year old laughs, not from malisciousness, but because they learnt that lesson and have a wonky nose to remind them. But yeah the environment is different from when they were 20 and there might be less rakes lying around nowadays but far more banana skins.