True confessions.

I’m guessing very few of you ever got a “bad grade” in any of your college studies. But I know someone who did … me. It was my sophomore year poetry class. Now a low mark isn’t something I’m particularly proud of (believe it or not, I was a pretty good student overall). But in this case, I really fell short.

What happened?

It didn’t take long for me to realize I didn’t like poetry (studying it). I wasn’t that interested. The subject, and the professor were boring to me (they were both way over my head). Iambic pentameter – blah. (Sidebar: I actually have a much greater appreciation for poetry now than I ever did then.) I have no idea why I signed up for the course (other than being on a liberal arts track). I didn’t go to many classes, or put much effort into study. Skipped a lot of the reading. Tuned out when I was there.

Did I withdraw from the course? No, I stuck it out. I didn’t withdraw on paper, but I sure did mentally.

Gee, I wonder why I had a problem?

I learned a valuable lesson.

This experience taught me an important fact – without commitment and work ethic we’re going to significantly underperform. We can only go so far when we’re just going through the motions, or working on a superficial level. That’s true in school, and at the office. Commitment and work ethic are required for achievement.

What’s going on with Millennials?

Managers tell me they have reasons to question the commitment and work ethic of many of their millennial workers. Their work“Ability,” so to speak.

As leaders, managers, supervisors, we need to stay close to and engaged with our youngest workers. They have greater interactive expectations. They’re more used to working in groups, supporting one another, interacting vs. going it alone, jumping from one thing to the next, not deciding until the last minute, conforming to popular opinions, looking for quick answers (Google mentality), or believing that test scores predict career achievements. They may think they’re leadership ready right out of the box.

We can’t just let them flounder on their own. Ignored, they can easily give up, move on, or lose interest in what they’re doing. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone. I get that.

But in general, millennials need a lot of our attention to help them succeed. It will take effort on our part to engage them with the workplace, and learn how to connect their educational abilities with the fundamental rules of success, achievement, and performance. Commitment and work ethic are best taught by demonstrating them in our own behaviors. They need to see it in action. Showing is much more effective than telling.

How long that will take … we’ll see? But it’s just part of modeling work“Ability” to our newest workers.

– Jerry Strom

Twitter: @JerryRStrom. For more information about our leadership and team development programs, please visit . Join the mailing list to receive new articles as they are published. This article is based on research conducted for the *‘The Relationships Report: The Linkage between Leadership and Relationships,’ by Jerry Strom & Company, Inc. Find ‘How Leaders Build Relationships at Work’ at short insights on Twitter at #RelationshipsRPT

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