Your Ambition as a Young Professional Does Not Make You the 20-Something Villain of the Business World

We’re inexperienced, energetic, and keen to prove our worth. The perfect mix of optimism and professional aspiration to make poor judgements that go in favour of our employer. We often find ourselves acting as the gear stick of the business – happy to do the grunt work by making things happen inside the machine, but completely manipulated by a higher power actually operating the machine. 
So of course it’s us doing the hands on work when shit goes down, and we get portrayed as the villain for it.
The 20-Something Villain rears its evil head when:
  • They are a new supervisor brought in to ‘shake things up’ – often according to higher power’s vision; or
  • They are a sales executive for some harmful product – often under the direction of someone who made the decision to sell the faulty product: or
  • They are in a position to make decisions with complete authority – often given by someone who has complete authority over the entire section.

Are you getting the picture of the evil, ruthless 20-something professional, with no experience, expertise or morals guiding their path of destruction?
Now picture them again as a puppet with long strings going all the way up to the person who put them in that place.
Because what I see in most of the stories I read, is managerial laziness hand-balling responsibility to a 20-something employee – eager to please, desperate to keep their job and with little bargaining power other than to follow directions. It’s a win-win situation for the manager, and a win-lose situation for the young employee.
We are the perfect scapegoat for crappy tasks, and determined enough to weather the disgruntlement from more experienced employees’ who wouldn’t touch the task with a 10 foot pole. It’s great that we’re getting experience – it sucks that we’re getting it in such a compromising way.
But we are not the true villain if we are under direction. The villain makes the evil plan, the side kick helps them carry it out. And side kicks aren’t really any age, they’re generally just assholes with a weird secret crush on their villainous master. So unless you are choosing to participate in the evil plan with full knowledge, don’t buy into the evil 20-something plot.
Your ambition, enthusiasm and eagerness will mean you are taken advantage of at times. But it does not make you the bad person in this whole murky world of business.

Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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  • 10 October 2012