Selfish, lazy, disrespectful, and entitled, are just some of the words that come up when talking about millennials in the work place. This negative perception is a common belief in todays business world, and it needs to be addressed. According to Time Magazine, there are 40 million millennials already in the work force, and by 2025, they will account for three out of every four workers worldwide.
There is no denying that there is a clear divide between Generation Y and Generation X. We grew up with the internet and smart phones, and they didn’t even start using computers until the 1980s. The way in which we learned to communicate is very different, and in the work place these differences are brought to light.
Not that these differences are necessarily bad, but there are some Gen Y people out there who are giving us a bad rap. There will always be stereotypes, and if we want to prove people wrong, we need to learn how to break them.
Lets start by talking about some of the most common millennial stereotypes, and what we can do to prevent ourselves from falling prey to these negative connotations.
We want you to hold our hand
Of course everyone likes a little guidance, but we can’t go around expecting to be told exactly what to do, and how to do it. Show your independence and know that it is okay to ask questions, but don’t think that people will just fix things for you. You’re smarter than you think, and you were hired for a reason. When starting a new project at work, don’t go running to a supervisor and ask how to do it, brainstorm some different approaches and then see what your boss has to say. This shows your ability to think for yourself, and breaks the stereotype that we need to be babied every step of the way.
We can’t take criticism
Jeff Ousbourne addresses the stereotype that we are “trophy kids.” Awarded prizes simply for showing up, and promised that we have no weaknesses. Consequently, this has lead to the belief that millennials have a hard time handling criticism. Nobody likes to be told what they are doing wrong, or what they can do better, but let’s face it, this is the business world and someone is going to tell you if you mess up. No one is perfect, remember that. When you do get called out, don’t be defensive. Instead show your appreciation for their feedback, and make the necessary changes.
We are lazy and entitled
In the article, Are Millennials too Spoiled for the Workplace, Kim Peterson says, “Millennials are developing a reputation as workplace divas who need more hand holding and who will bolt from jobs at the drop of a hat.” Millennials are complaining about working 40 hours a week, and are wanting to wear jeans to work. Due to the extremely competitive environment that we grew up in, we also don’t place a high value on company loyalty, like the people of Generation X. Millennials need to realize that companies are not going to change for us, and we need to respect the practices that are already put into place.
We are addicted to social media and technology
What can I say, we were born in the digital age. Pew Research Center calls us “histories first ‘always connected’ generation.” We sleep with our phones and use social media as a part of our everyday lives. Fortunately, for us Gen Y folks, businesses recognize the importance of social media, and hire people like us to manage their online accounts. We get technology, as compared to the baby boomers, and have a competitive advantage in that field. We may be addicted to social media, and the little glowing screen that we carry everywhere, but knowing how to use technology makes us smarter. We know how to access information faster, and can reach millions of people with the click of a button. However, there is two ways to look at this. If your job is not to manage the social media accounts for your company, and you’re on your phone at work, learn how to put it away and focus on the tasks in front of you.
We are scared to talk face to face
Overcome with the convenience of texting and emails, millennials seem to have lost touch with the importance of face-to-face communication. Of course a text or email is great when you need to quickly get in touch with someone, but having face-to-face communication is extremely important in todays business world. Building relationships is the key to success, and that means you have to use verbal communication. Let the people you work with get to know who you are, and don’t resort to always just sending a text or email. Walk down the hall, ask people how their days are going, and make a name for yourself. The big CEOs didn’t get to where they are today from just sitting behind a computer screen.
Final take aways
Don’t let these millennial stereotypes define you. We are forced to work in world with people who grew up in different era, and it is our job to try and bridge the gap. Put yourself out there, follow my advice, and hopefully we can change the way people think of Generation Y!