Millenials, dubbed the “Look at Me” generation, have been thought of as being entitled, self-centered, disloyal, and lacking motivation in all facets of their lives, but especially in the workplace. Additionally, the way we as millenials communicate and work with members of older generations in professional environments has come under scrutiny. The workplace has evolved a great deal from when the Boomers and Gen Xs were running the show. In order to create an efficient yet innovative workplace moving forward, communication will continue to be key. In their article focusing on this element of communication, Myers and Sadaghiani analyze how differences in values actually affect millenials’ performance in the workplace as well as how they interact with members of their organization.
With waves upon waves of millenials entering the workplace, the first challenge they will inevitably face will be learning the social norms and expectations of the organization they are hired by. Since millenials hold the values of independence and flexible working conditions in higher regard than other generations, they may be viewed as lazy by their older coworkers due to them wanting to start work at noon, but work late into the night.
I have experienced first hand this disconnect in values when it comes to socialization within an organization. I currently work for a smaller firm with around 12 employees total in the office during most days. The younger employees, recent college grads or still in school like myself, value having the freedom to work from home on certain days or to take power naps in the afternoons because we believe we work better in flexible environments. The older employees and managers are very schedule oriented. They go to lunch at the same time everyday and go home the same time everyday. While there is nothing wrong with routine, it is clear that their values are a little different and thus dictate how they work in a different way.
Our comfortability with technology is a trait that could be perceived as self-centeredness or acting condescending by older generations. It is important to realize that older generations may feel “threatened” by how easily and how often we utilize gadgets to help solve problems. To combat this, we should help coworkers without as much technologic know-how to attain skills that could increase their productivity. We as millenials could achieve this by offering instructional workshops to make these older coworkers more competitive in the working world. By doing so, millenials could also build connections with potential mentors with more work experience in the professional world who can offer feedback on areas where they aren’t as strong. We should also make an effort to utilize written communication such as email as a means of setting up Face-to-Face meetings.
Millenials are also stereotyped as disengaged but in actuality, we are multi-taskers at our very core. Growing up in an era where information is just a mouse click away has shaped the way we problem solve and we normally have a lot of things going on at once that we try to accomplish simultaneously. This also makes us very adaptable and means we are comfortable using lots of different mediums of communication and team managing. Apps being adopted by millenials such as Slack and Trello make project management within teams easier. A way we can combat the stereotype of being disengaged is to introduce other older members of the workplace to applications and tools such as these to make multi-tasking easier for them. This will in turn benefit communication for the whole office if everyone is keeping up to date with the status of projects via the office Trello board. Go millenials!
Who We Really Are
Sure, at times we as a generation live up to some of the stereotypes of laziness and selfishness. But they certainly do not define every essence of who we are and how we contribute to the global economy. In order to combat the aforementioned stereotypes, we as millenials must utilize our unique values and the strengths we do have to seize our place as the leaders of tomorrow.