Society today is constantly bombarded with stereotypes, especially those concerning millennials in the workplace. These stereotypes have tarnished the image and reputation of the millennials, regardless of which stage in life they are. As a result, many business professionals are reluctant to work with millennials and fear that their disconnect to the outside world will negatively impact their job performance. As a millennial myself, I have already come face-to-face with how stereotypes about my generation can impact a workplace relationship. In high school, I worked at a frozen yogurt store and the owner insisted on manually tracking all of the toppings that would arrive biweekly to the store. When I suggested using a digital system that would track the figures instead, she accused me of being too lazy and a “product of my generation”. I was convinced my method was simpler and did not make me lazy, but my boss never agreed.Therefore, it is not important to fixate on whether stereotypes are truth or not, but rather concentrate on how to overcome and adapt to these stereotypes.
With the right tools, millennials can effectively combat negative stereotypes through their written workplace communication in order to foster strong relationships. In a recent article in Fortune, Carolyn Baird depicts five myths about millennials in the workplace. One of these stereotypes discussed how millennials are digital addicts who want to do and share everything online without regard for personal or professional boundaries. There are a few simple ways to instantly challenge this stereotype. First, you should prioritize face-to- face interaction over digital alternatives in regards to learning new skills in the workplace. Furthermore, you should be sure to draw a firm line between your personal and professional lives. I know this can be difficult sometimes because the two aspects of your life can easily overlap. However, if this line is not clearly drawn, then your workplace environment can suffer. Lastly, you should be aware of privacy settings and ensure that all posts are appropriate for everyone to view. An important question to ask yourself before posting something is, “How would my boss react to this post if he/she saw it?”.
Another stereotype plaguing today’s workplace is the notion that millennials are scared to communicate with others in person and would prefer talking to a screen. Millennials gravitate towards using text, instant messaging, and social media in order to communicate with co-workers. I can relate to this stereotype because I would much rather email a fellow workplace employee than call them. Since we grew up surrounded by technology that allowed for communication without intimate interaction, it can be extremely difficult for millennials to break this pattern. However, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when faced with written workplace communication. There are certain instances when face-to-face communication is not practical. For example, instant messaging, texting, and the use of social media is efficient when you need to get a hold of several people abroad due to different times zones. On the other hand, if an employer contacts you via phone, call back promptly rather than responding with an email or text. Phone calls or face-to-face communication is preferred because these forms of communication guarantee that nothing can be interpreted incorrectly. Appropriate communication in the workplace will improve your interactions and prevent you from doing something like the woman in the photo below.
As I experienced with my boss in high school, there is the widely known stereotype that millennials are lazy, entitled, and think they know everything. This notion stems from the belief that millennials have always had technology to complete tasks for them. A simple way to defy this stereotype is to actively seek new experiences and methods of learning. Be engaged and willing to learn from your superiors and those of earlier generations. Do not be afraid to reach out and email individuals asking to participate in training programs.
If you remain positive and keep this information in mind when interacting with co-workers or engaging in written communication in the workplace, then you will be successful. Remember that you have the power to change stereotypes; they do not define you.