Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

Mentoring Narcissists

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 t**ts, 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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6 years ago

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… Read more »

Hallowed Be
Hallowed Be
6 years ago

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,… Read more »

6 years ago

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… Read more »

Hallowed Be
Hallowed Be
6 years ago

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… Read more »

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