Why Most of my Coaching Clients are Under 35…and the Significance.


I keep a coaching logbook where I record my coaching hours. I guess it’s a bit like a pilot’s logbook, except I don’t tend to make comments about the weather or if I had a bumpy landing. But, it was while completing my logbook the other day, that it suddenly occurred to me, while reading down the names, that most of my clients are in their 20s and 30s.

In fact, around 70% of my coachees can be classed as ‘Millenials’. This is even more remarkable considering that at networking events, where I met many of them, I would say that the vast majority of attendees are well over 35 years old…or have had very hard paper rounds!

This got me thinking. I’ve never, consciously, had a strategy to attract clients with more hair and less ‘laughter lines’ than me; it’s just turned out that way. Why?

Pondering the answer reminded me of a conversation I’d had a while ago with my son, himself an early millennial, about people of his generation. Despite his genes (and politics), Chris is a surprisingly savvy young man, possessing a shrewd understanding of the prevailing zeitgeist (thanks to our German friends for that wonderful word!).

Describing his generation as one of entitlement, it was he who first drew my attention to the different expectations, priorities and even demands of his peers when it comes to personal growth alongside career development.

A Harvard Business Review article published last year (2016) seems to back this assertion up. Despite their reputation for job-hopping and actually wanting a life to run alongside their work (imagine!), the single most important factor for Millenials when searching for a career was the opportunity to learn and develop, with over 60% seeing this as important, compared to around 35% of the baby-boomer generation.

Self-awareness and seizing opportunities for personal and professional growth are, generally, a lot higher in the under 35s. This is important to the rest of us for a number of reasons.

First, if you run or work for a business and your company wants to do a better job of retaining Millennials, it’s important to understand what motivates them, what doesn’t, and the delicate balance between the two.

By and large, Millennials want the same things from their employers as other generations. It’s just that they may be a bit more assertive in asking for them. They look for growth opportunities, great leadership, and jobs that are well suited to their talents and interests. If organizations can provide these attributes, they may keep their Millennial employees from continually searching for — and pursuing — the next best thing elsewhere.

Also, the greater emphasis young adults place on finding work that enriches and complements their lives is a philosophy many of us older ones could well employ. Many of us entered business with the “Protestant work ethic” mentality, where work fills the time allotted to it and so many people in their 40’s and 50’s are suffering from stress, burn-out and a dreadful work/life balance.

As a coach I love to learn. And, in working with younger people I learn plenty. But I also have much to offer them, in common with many of my generation, helping them unlock their enormous potential and learn a few tried and trusted techniques, too.

But, spending more time with the Millenials is also a reminder to us all, particularly those of us in the ‘second-half’ of our careers, that our professional (and personal!) lives don’t last very long, which is why a more balanced approach to our working lives and an awareness of our own continual learning and development is so essential, irrespective of age.