Man at His Best

Opinion: Create Your Own Millennial Army

Imran Johri wants you to know that if you can't beat them, join them. Because causing physical harm will land you in prison.

BY Imran Johri | Jan 18, 2017 | Culture


Same old sourpuss face, every freaking morning. Literally drags her feet into the office, slams her ass down, and lets out a huge sigh as her computer boots up. From where I’m sitting, I want to choke-slam her Undertaker-style. She has consistently, and single-handedly, ruined the start of everyone’s workday for months and, on Mondays, it’s like Death-after-a-full-night-of-diarrhoea has come to the office. Later, in the boardroom, as I spell out her worklist in front of the team, the face she gives me is akin to someone about to give birth to pineapples. And when I call her out on her crappy face-acrobatics, she tops it off with a mega-deep diva eye-roll. I really want to Tombstone her right now—but she’s my best writer.

He talks smack all the time. Which is fine if you’re Bruce Freakin’ Lee. But he’s not, and yet he keeps goading colleagues into insane exchanges of testicular bravado. They’re not aimed at me, but it’s intensely awkward when he calls a team member “Goondu-Baboon” and giggles hysterically while pointing at her. Plus, when Goondu-Baboon actually gets ready to flip over the boardroom table in Hulk-rage, you retreat and play the victim of office discrimination. If it weren’t for your exceptional ability to conceptualise killer pitches that win mega-dollar accounts, I would have thrown you out of a moving car and reversed into you repeatedly.

If I hear one more lame excuse about how your mysterious illness is so special the doctor cannot prescribe an MC—I swear to Cthulhu—I’m going to flying elbow you from the second floor of this office building. But I can’t, because you’re a girl and a team member, and HR does not look kindly upon managers who jump off the second floor to land a perfect elbow for the 1-2-3 count. I know you’re a liar, because who comes back to the office for a team lunch the day after purported internal organ surgery that cannot be explained because it’s “delicate”? But goddammit, you can really PR the hell out of a room full of annoying clients.

If, for whatever professional reason, you’re a boss-man or in a supervisory role of sorts, then there’s a high chance you have millennials in your midst. You know, the youngish folk who have a bit of a reputation for being whiny, sass-shooting, eye-rolling disrupters. Apparently, they’re not quite there yet with this whole “taking directions” gig.

None of the aforementioned people in the first four paragraphs are millennials. They are Xers, boomers and whatever generation that comes in between. All spread across a career journey in various roles, spanning almost two decades. Point is, talented assholes, weirdoes and like-minded maniacs are everywhere and will keep popping up in your career. Millennials are just part of this bigger consolidation of work-related relations. Actually, millennials are but a social construct aimed at trying to understand a large group of young people that many can’t seem to handle well. But if you’re in a position to lead, you better damn well bring the best out of the pool of insanity that you have.

Sour Face, from my expat job in 2005, is one hell of a writer. If I tell her to write about paint drying, she’ll give me the obligatory decay-face, and then submit a riveting feature about the death of rainbows and the art of resurrecting them with paint.

Despite his immature predilection for asinine name calling, Smack Mouth (2003) will win you clients on demand. He will spend days and nights camping in the office at my command.

Sick Chicken (2009), despite looking like she’s about to die of a mystery illness, has journos wrapped around her little, pale, crooked finger. In fact, in dire situations, she is the go-to person for crisis management, even if she just had surgery yesterday.

These zany characters are specialists in their fields, and I deal with millennials just as I have with any of my previous A-Team members, with career enslavement. Ever since the term “millennial” was coined, there’s been a lot of flak surrounding their management. Sure, they’re cynical, sassy and question everything, but isn’t everyone in his or her early to mid-twenties like that? If you weren’t, then you sucked as a young person. So, what the hell is carefully crafted career enslavement?

Consider this: if you’ve ever bothered to listen to that sulking, selfietaker in the corner of your office, you’d probably discover that he can get infinitely more likes and engagements on any given digital social platform than you can. Not even your dick pic can come close to a post of his prata breakfast. In fact, that youngling can probably do most of your job faster—the difference is, as far as youth will take you, experience is lacking. And experience counts for a lot.

Right now, my A-Team millennial army consists of very efficient digital work-hackers. Yes, they’re annoying, but they get shit done fast and they deliver on command. Want to win their loyalty and servitude? Make your mentorship and leadership a coveted one. Right from the get-go, make it known that you know more about what they need to be good at, more so than anyone else. Test them all the time and show that you can do it better, because you’ve clearly been doing it longer. Not sure if you can do better? Seriously— how long have you been doing what you’re doing? If a 20-year-old grad can be better at whatever you’ve been doing for the past decade, quit now and DO SOMETHING ELSE. Millennials crave purpose and, if you can show them their career purpose, they will stick by you to the end—through every evil client, through every late-night submission push. When you leave the company, they will follow.

Start now; build your follower base. For soon, a new generation of hard-tomanage annoyances will emerge. By then, your millennial army should be able to manage them for you.


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Esquire Singapore, Mongoose Publishing, its affiliates or its employees.