Say the word “millennial” and you’ll probably hear a collective groan from older generations. This generation gets a bad rap for being lazy, entitled and impatient.
I have been in the staffing business for 24 years and I have witnessed every possible human trait in the workplace. I can tell you from experience that lazy, entitled and impatient exist in every generation. If people aren’t hungry for work or have no ambition, they will possess these qualities, no matter the age.
Many millennials are misunderstood by their older co-workers. That’s why I believe millennials must work extra hard to overcome millennial status and be seen as equals.
Know The Stereotypes
Whether you like it or not, millennials have quite a few negative stereotypes attached to them. For some millennials, all of them are true. However, that doesn’t app
ly to the majority. The first step towards being seen as a talented employee versus just a product of your generation means not being a prime example of negative stereotypes. IBM conducted an international survey to help dispel some of the following myths:
- Won’t stay in one place long
- Want to be rewarded, even if they don’t do the work
- Can’t make decisions on their own
- Doesn’t have the same strong work ethic
- They can’t function unless they’re online
As you might notice, the overall theme is a worker who isn’t dedicated to their job and won’t work as hard as previous generations. Actually, none of that is true. It’s just a myth. Most of it is simply due to generational differences and not laziness.
One thing you have to remember is you’re likely going to be managed by someone who isn’t a millennial. This means they won’t always understand the way your mind works or how you prefer to do things. This is why so many managers and even recruiters find it hard to engage and manage millennials. This leads to high turnover rates, making it even harder for you to overcome millennial status.
It’s easy to get frustrated and demand things be a certain way or just quit. Instead, start a conversation. Nothing gets accomplished if neither side is willing to compromise. Remember, older generations are used to doing things a certain way. Asking them to change isn’t going to go over well.
Instead, offer a compromise and be prepared to show them the benefits of your methods. Managers want to increase productivity and efficiency. If you’re willing to compromise a little, they will too. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
This is by far the most important thing to remember if you want to overcome millennial status. Wharton Magazine talks about a mantra all millennials should keep in mind when starting a new job or wanting to move up – prepare, deliver and be humble.
If you walk into a job and seem clueless about how business works, it’s not going to make a great first impression. If your social media profiles look more like a teenager making bad choices, it’s going to be hard to gain respect. Prepare yourself to look and act more professional. Do this and your age (or generation) won’t matter.
Deliver the quality of work you’d be proud of. Even if it’s just a temporary job as you work towards your dream career, give it your all. Be punctual. Be respectful. Have a plan in place for exceeding expectations. When you’re at your best, no one cares about your age.
Finally, be humble. Entitlement is one of the worst millennial stereotypes, so disprove it. The moment someone knows you’re a millennial, they have this stereotype in the back of their mind. I know it might be easier to just be offended and wait for them to get to know the real you, but in this case, I want you to make the first move.
Start by being respectful. Ask questions. Be eager to learn from your colleagues. In a team setting, listen and then offer useful suggestions to build upon the knowledge of your older co-workers. Not only do you grow, but you gain respect and dispel the entitlement myth completely.
Pay Your Dues
I remember being young and wanting to move up as fast as possible along my career path. However, everyone, no matter what experience or education they might have, has to pay their dues to move up. Earn respect and be seen as a valued co-worker and employee. Work hard, be a team player and show you have what it takes to get the job done.
Millennial status is an obstacle you’ll have to overcome in the business world but show that you’re not a stereotype and you will succeed.
This blog was inspired by Rachel Kingsley, the most non-stereotypical Millennial in our organization.