Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 23 No. 18
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

What managers need to know about the Class of 2020

Our panel of educators also had advice for hiring managers. They’ve spent the last two — or in some cases four — years around your next hires. Here’s what you should know as you prepare to manage them.

Rick Burton

Syracuse University

“They are smarter than most of the hiring people realize. They’ve had more education and more sophisticated education than any generation before them. They are in general highly intelligent. But their aspirations are that a week after getting hired they would like to be promoted. And they’ve not had to deal with conflict because their parents have largely kept them away from it. Nobody has told them something is not good enough or that someone else won. So a lot of young people are getting hired and leaving very quickly because in their mind they’re not being allowed to fix the organization at 23. So they say — I’m not making a difference.

“These young people want to be shown what their career path is from day one and they want to be ticking off accomplishments on day two. And then having their annual review on day three to be able to justify their promotion on day four — a promotion, by the way, that’s probably going to go to someone with 10 years experience.”


Jim Kahler

Ohio University

“I tell people making hires that it’s very fair to, once they get down to the final two, say, ‘Can you look me in the eye and give me a two-year commitment? Because I am going to give you the best of what I’ve got. I’m going to train you. But I don’t want you looking at new jobs at six months and 12 months in.’ Because to today’s generation, eight months is a lifetime commitment. So if you as a hiring manager ask me for a psychological contract for a two-year commitment, I’m not going to be looking at every new job that my classmates are sending through our private chat site. We all work hard to find the best talent. But we have to work harder at trying to retain and grow them within our corporation.

“If you’re hiring, you need to make sure that the kids you’re hiring have patience and aren’t going to be looking for the next job two weeks after they unpack all their belongings and get settled in. That’s a real problem. It’s not long before they start thinking I could be moving on, and then I should be moving on. And sometimes they move too quick. As a generation, they’re anxious to go show the world what they can do. And If they see that they’re being stymied in their current role, they’re going to start looking. And it’s easier to look now than it’s ever been.”


Steve McKelvey

University of Massachusetts Amherst

“They’re very culturally aware. Very teamwork-centric. I think this generation gets a bad rap for a lot of things. Maybe our program is different, but I see our students and our students are very driven. They have different values. But when they find a job that they’re passionate about, they’re very driven. They’re hardworking. I don’t see that they’re entitled or lazy, which are labels they sometimes get. Still, you hear that so much that I’d be looking to flush out any sense of entitlement and stay away from somebody that’s overly concerned with what their perks are going to be.”


Whitney Wagoner

University of Oregon

“They’re wonderful. Contrary to popular belief, they are really hard workers. They are creative. They are community based. They’re happy to be a team player. There’s a lot of positive human energy from college-age people today. They certainly want to feel like they are making an impact on the organization or the project they’re working on. They don’t want to work for work’s sake. They don’t want to spend time and energy on something that is not going to advance the ball for the question at hand. So you will get more out of them if you invest more in them. Make them feel empowered. Make them feel like they have a seat at the table and an opportunity to make an impact. When they believe that they are part of something that is meaningful, they work hard, they have creative ideas and they are good teammates — especially when they believe in the mission and believe that their work is valued and contributing in a meaningful way.”