Steve Fenton

Grinders vs Growers: Millenial falcons fly free

There is an emerging theme of videos and articles aimed at millennials, telling them that they need to stay in jobs longer and learn “grit and perseverance”.

This is the modern equivalent of the patronising change management book “Who Moved My Cheese”, which is handed out by lazy managers when they are performing radom acts of malevolence. The book is a clear message from these bosses: ‘You are the problem, because you don’t like change!’

There are good and bad reasons to leave a job, but never wrong reasons. If you’ve had enough and leave with good grace, you do far less damage than those who choose to stay and grind it out. If you have ever joined a company with too many “Grinders”, you’ll have noticed that it defends itself ruthlessly against energy, optimism, and innovation. You don’t learn or grow in this bad soil.

There is a real danger that choosing to stick it out will damage you. You will find yourself compromising your values or, worse, growing comfortable as a Grinder.

As a hiring manager who has been responsible for hiring decisions for over fifteen years, I can honestly say that there is a big difference between years of experience and shapes of experience.

Grinders don’t have ten years of experience, they have one year of experience repeated ten times. Up against a “Grower” candidate that protected their energy and moved a couple of times over the same time period, they look ameteur. Grinders think they are “done”; that they learned everything there is to know. They don’t think they need to continually improve.

So, onto the flip side. There is great news underpinning this problem of toxic organisations that require grinders. They will die out. The organisations that attract Growers are also the ones that attract customers. It takes time for the evolutionary process to come to fruition, but it’s happening right now and it will speed up, because a company of Grinders make predictably bad decisions when losing market share to Growers.

My message to Growers is this: don’t buy the fear of change the Grinders are selling. They need you to believe that everywhere is as bad as it is in GrindCo. They will tell you that you’re ruining your CV, or that you should wait until after the mythical annual bonus – anything to make you stay, because they find it hard to attract people like you.

My message for Grinders, individual or organisation, is this: change or fade.

Written by Steve Fenton on