CPH Career: The millennial fulcrum

Several of my clients have recently left a project, course, internship or an entry-level job, citing issues with the management or an inability to understand the mantra of the team. The further we spoke, the more I realised it was a case that they didn’t fit in.

Millennials are different
Most of them are educated foreign graduates with first-hand experience of the sector they are training or working in. Most are also millennials.

I can testify from personal experience that this age range – typically those born between 1985 and 1995, although the precise years are a fierce topic of debate – hate to be managed.

Numbers, KPIs and a strict 8-4 schedule take a distant second place to a manager who can inspire them with their success, flexibility and enriching example – namely a leader who cares about people.

Danish diversity a myth
Although Denmark often advertises itself as one of the best countries to work, I regularly see motivated, knowledgeable foreigners voluntarily leaving Danish companies.

Most Danish companies are guilty through their insistence that for an English-language job one of the required skills is being able to speak and understand Danish.

This narrow-minded requirement is deemed essential to team-building, which most foreigners can confirm is limited to table talk whilst drinking and eating.

The joy of effective team-building does not come from a common language. And claiming you are an international company with a team of 51 Danes and one foreigner, who you require to speak Danish, is hypocritical nonsense.

Time to wake up
Some of you might think that speaking Danish is a very team-specific skill. But if it is, then the Danish language is probably the lingua franca in all aspects of the job – for example, sales and legal issues.

I am referring to transferable team skills like IT and finance, be it procurement, marketing, or research and development.

There may very well be employees/managers out there who trumpet their team’s cultural differences as their biggest strength, but unfortunately in my experience Danish companies want their employees to melt down their home-grown working standards, dis-colouring them in the process.

This is a big turn off for a lot of qualified foreigners – not just millennials. Danish managers need to wake up and see the potential for growth by adjusting to a diverse workforce, rather than enforcing the opposite.