If you haven’t read the story yet, I recommend you do. For a super brief version, a disgruntled employee (who happens to be a millennial) of Yelp wrote an angry open letter to the company’s CEO and published it on Medium.
Spoiler alert: she was fired. But I’m not here to pass judgment on whether that was or was not the right decision. I would like to make a couple of observations about what this event can teach us about the workplace of today and how people (especially millennials) can thrive in it tomorrow.
Employees need to be heard. I am definitely not in a position to say whether or not Yelp has a sufficient system in place for receiving employee feedback and for letting those employees know that their voices are being heard. I am very comfortable saying that companies, whether they are as large as Yelp or a small 10-person operation, need to have communication front and center on their list of values. Again, it’s not enough to preach openness; it must be practiced as well.
You still have to pay your dues. Perhaps some millennials do have a Harry Potter-esque notion that you should just be able to put on a hat, be told “you’re creative,” and get put at the helm of some big shot creative company. It seems that that’s the kind of recognition the letter writer wanted after less than a year at the company. But though some things in the world of work have changed, that’s truly not how it works. Not even close. We still have to pay our dues and learn the ropes, so to speak, in any career we might choose. Employees looking to be the special flower should get an attitude adjustment, and quickly.
When is the last time getting angry got you what you wanted? Really think about it. Anger is for children, and for that reason, I’m willing to bet that you can’t remember the last time getting angry turned out in the best possible scenario for you. It doesn’t work that way. If you have legitimate grievances, that’s great. Take a deep breath and channel those feelings into writing if you’d like. Find a way to make your point without sounding petty and accusatory. Understand and truly internalize that the world does not revolve around you.
It’s unfortunate that this kind of disagreement had to play out in such an ugly, public way. But that gives us an opportunity to examine the situation and learn from it. Whether you’re an employer of my generation or an employee of the millennial generation, I hope you can see how both sides have something to learn from this experience.