Welcome to the workforce! As a Millennial I am certain your elder colleagues have already stereotyped you to some extent, so lets take a look at how to prove them wrong. For instance, things like being lazy, entitled, unfocused, rude, and disloyal, are all assumptions older generations have made about Millennials and quite frankly, they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many of these stereotypes came to fruition as a result of miscommunication between generations in the workplace. This post from monster.com does a great job of addressing these stereotypes as well as suggesting things coworkers on both sides of the aisle can do to bridge the gap and do away with misconceptions.
Now let’s address the communication problem, many of the above stereotypes stem from a disconnect in how generations communicate with each other.
Formality – Earlier generations such as the baby boomers are used to a far more formal structured work environment then that of what us Millennials are familiar with or desire. Everything from how one should dress, to punctuality, and office interactions are being challenged by Millennials. One way to ease the pain for your older co-workers and to make sure you’re never out of line is to mirror the formality of the office in all of your communications. Whether in person, via text, or email, make sure your tone is reciprocated. The last thing you want to do is build a reputation for being to relaxed and informal.
Don’t forget to pick up the phone – Although we thrive at multi-tasking on multiple devices at the same time, your Baby Boomer and Gen-X associates will appreciate you picking up the phone. Furthermore, take a walk and go hash out the issue in person. The extra step goes a long way and although our speedy response time is appreciated, a brief text or email doesn’t always get the job done.
Over Communicate – Don’t make an ass out of you and me! Assumption is one of the biggest killers of office cooperation and can cause major oversights on team projects. By assuming someone got the entire message both written and implied you are creating space for a miscommunication. Often colloquialisms and lax language are to blame for generations slipping past each other like ships in the night. To avoid this, make sure that your emails are airtight when assigning tasks and deadlines, as well as when your communicating externally. The last thing you need you need is an unhappy client.
Don’t take it to heart – Older generations often criticize our loser-less upbringings where everyone did a “great job” and goes home with a trophy. This same sentiment has followed us to the workplace where our co-workers may view us as soft. The harsh reality is that we won’t always be right, we will make mistakes, and we most definitely will fail. The key is how you respond to it, rather then harping on your short comings, correct your wrong and move on to earn the respect you deserve.
By employing these tips you can be sure to side step typical stereotypes and set yourself apart from the pack in the eyes of your co-workers and superiors.