4 Tips for Curbing Gen Y Workplace Stereotypes
You’ve seen the generational labels – Boomers are workaholics, Gen X’ers are hyper-individualistic and Gen Y’ers are attention-craving. Also known as “Millennials”, the Gen Y crowd now inhabits and shapes the workforce. If you’re a Millennial, perhaps you’ve seen the media’s portrayal of your reputation in the workplace.
Generalizations lump everybody into one, big, homogenous group. The narrative on the Gen Y generation is filled with words like spoiled, entitled and demanding. Is it unfair? You bet it is. But here’s the deal – Millennials who point out the bias only reinforce the stereotype of spoiled, self-entitled whiners.
My career advice for Millennials?
Play against typecast.
Show the people in your work life that you are so different than that meme.
Your savvy co-workers and managers will look past the unflattering media portrayals of your generation if you give them a reason to do so.
Do these four things each and every day to avoid being pigeonholed:
Be all-around awesome. Sometimes, Millennials think that being uniquely “who they are” is enough to qualify for a pat on the back or a promotion. Not true. You need to be amazingly awesome at what you do as well. It’s the value you provide to your company that will get you noticed and rewarded.
Work hard. I know you do this already, but keep this in mind – strive to understand others’ definition of “hard work”. I’m not suggesting that you cave to the mind set that “hard work” = “putting in hours”. Just know that if you’re working for a dinosaur with this mindset, you’ll need to help him/her understand that you can get results while hanging out at Starbuck’s and checking your Facebook page.
Be easy to work with. Learn to how to use facetime on ipad
e=”text-decoration: underline;”>tactfully tell your older, technologically challenged co-worker how to do things more efficiently. Do less eye-rolling at the stupid company crap, more strategizing on how to fix it. Keep the drama to yourself – professional workplace communications should not look like a reality-TV show confession-cam.
Leverage your age. One of the best things you have going for you is the vigor of youth, so use that energetic spark with those skeptical, road-worn co-workers. Keep in mind that even if your idea is super-fresh, chances are, someone else has thought of its derivative at some point. A good way to test the waters before pitching your idea is asking “What’s been tried before?” and following up with, “What’s your assessment of why it didn’t work?”
Is this old-school advice? You bet. Work holism may be out-of-date, but working hard never goes out of style. Statistics show that many people of the Millennial generation are forgoing working for large companies because they don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy. Fair enough. But know this – organizations of all sizes demand people who deliver and know how to work with people.
Surprise your boss and co-workers by showing some old-fashioned attributes and you’ll be able to build a career that fits into your overall life’s objectives. And isn’t that one of the best things that the Millennials have taught us all, no matter what our generation?
photo credit: Jennifer V. Miller
About the author: For 20+ years, Jennifer V. Miller has been helping professionals “master the people equation” to maximize their personal influence. A former HR generalist and training manager, she now advises executives on how to create positive, productive workplace environments. She is the founder and Managing Partner of SkillSource and blogs at The People Equation. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter as @JenniferVMiller.