Six years after its founding, wholesale fashion marketplace Joor has ample venture capital, is on track to bring in about $30 million in revenues in 2016, and has about 100 employees in seven cities.
The average age of those 100 employees: 26.
That might not seem like a big deal, but look at it this way: Averages skew up. And Joor does have a cadre of more experienced managers who have been with the company since the beginning, as well as another group of folks with serious experience who have joined within the past three to four years. So the remainder of Joor's employees are not only new to Joor, but somewhat new to the workforce, as well.
Those millennial employees are entering a very different company than the relative old-timers did, says Joor founder Mona Bijoor (pictured above). They also have very different expectations of the company and of their careers, which can make for a management challenge.
In a wide-ranging interview, I asked Bijoor about managing younger workers, international differences in hiring, and what to do when someone says you're too direct.
What kind of manager are you?
I'm very priorities-driven. Once a week I get eight emails, one each from my direct reports. Each email says what that person is going to accomplish this week, what they're going to do next week, and what their blind spots are.
I'm a people person, but I didn't realize how intense the human capital component of building a company would be. There is never enough time for people's learning and development. You have to make it a religion.
We were late to the game with quarterly reviews and lunch and learns. Had I started two years ago, my people would have grown much faster.
Do you see differences in the types of talent you can hire in different cities?
Oh yes. In Europe, there is amazing talent. The economy is bad, so even very smart kids are glad to have a job. They're very business-oriented, and they have high emotional intelligence about what it means to come to work.
In Los Angeles, people are not as work-centric. And in the U.S. generally, we need to do more conditioning of employees when they start. We need to teach them how you actually show up to work, about attitude and motivation.
How has growth affected your management style?
Right now, everything that happens, I'm like, "We need a process for that." A year ago, I would have cringed. And the people that have been with me for three of four years, they agree, but they can't subscribe to it. You can't go rogue any more.
It's also hard because some groups in our company are still in startup mode. We're making a retailer app for department and specialty stores. We can't put a process in place in that group, because we don't know what we're doing.
What do your newer hires expect, compared to the earlier ones?
Three times a year we do upward management surveys. And the new hires want to know what is the vacation policy, what track are they on, what responsibilities do they have.
The older employees are like, "We can't believe you want to know all this! The sky's the limit!" The older employees know if someone does really well they can get four raises in a year. The newer ones have heard the folklore, but they don't trust.
Is it difficult managing people with such different expectations?
So, the other thing about those management surveys is that people would complain I wouldn't say hi to them in the hall. That I need to smile more. I'm like, I don't come here to chit-chat and hear about your weekend. I come here to work. They think I'm too direct, and they want a layer or a buffer between themselves and me.
What can you do about that? It sounds sort of personal.
I try to contextualize, so they better understand the feedback I'm giving them. And I smile more.