Good Companies-vs-Great Companies: A Millennial Perspective

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In today’s world of employee retention and recruitment, it takes more than decent benefits and a 401K matching plan to attract top Millennial talent.  One look at the offices and the amenities companies such as Google or Facebook are offering their young team members is all you’ll need to see that the best and brightest of the Millennial generation are looking for more than a job.  They’re looking for a lifestyle.  But the most ambitious Millennials entering the workforce are looking for even more.  They’re looking to be a part of something truly excellent.

Innovation has reigned supreme for the duration of Millennials’ lives.  We have grown up heralding ingenuity, entrepreneurialism and creativity.  It’s what we want for ourselves.  We want to be the next Zuckerberg, Mayer, or Blakely.  We see these young leaders not only in positions of power, but as leaders of excellence, and we want the same.

Millennials are looking to be a part of something bigger than ourselves by joining a company that we feel proud to be a part of.  We want to be associated with companies which embody innovation, creativity, and excellence in all regards.  We want to work for great companies, not just good companies.

Excellence Defined

Excellence in the workplace is more than just an ideology or a set of principles.  It’s a set of beliefs and ways of thinking which start with ideas, and are then executed by virtue of discipline.  So what does it look like in the workplace?

It looks like companies like Apple.  Even the employees at Apple’s retail stores are empowered to listen for and resolve expressed and unexpressed needs.  Apple wants to provide uncompromised customer service, so it seeks out those associates who show not only the aptitude, but the drive to anticipate the customer’s needs, and fulfill them before the customer becomes disenchanted.  In fact, Steve Jobs once said “Get closer than ever to your customers.  So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize themselves.”

Other CEOs who have spoken out about the need for excellence in business mimic similar sentiments.  Sam Walton is credited with having said, “The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.” In a similar vein, Debbi Fields, Founder of Mrs. Fields cookies has stated that “Good enough never is.  Set your standards so high that even the flaws are considered excellent.”

Excellence in Action

Great companies deliver excellence in everything they do, and those are the companies that attract the best of the best of the Millennial generation.  We want to work for businesses who have outstanding reputations, because that reputation is indicative that excellence begins within the four walls of the company.  We want to work with companies who are making a difference in the world and in their communities.  We want to work for companies that are spearheading great change in their industry.  Because that’s what we want for ourselves.

Millennials pine for opportunities to push forward, without fear that we’ll be admonished to give up and maintain the status quo.  We want to be a part of making our team’s customer service, products, and deliverables better than ever.  We want to be on the frontlines of innovation, because we grew up on it, and we believe in it wholeheartedly.

Great companies raise the bar and set new standards in their industries, while good companies are content to percolate along, never taking risks.  Great companies encourage out-of-the-box thinking, and want to hear new ideas, even from their youngest team members.  Great companies want their employees to analyze the way we work and look for systems and processes that can be improved upon.  They value our input.

Perhaps Millennials do want a lot.  There’s clearly no shortage of critics who say we want too much.  But from where I’m standing, what we want is only going to challenge businesses to put forth their best efforts in delivering excellence in all they do.  And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.


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