Posted On05 Feb 2020
6 Ways for Millennials to Overcome Their Stereotypes
All too often, millennials get a bad rep. Those belonging to what has been dubbed as the ‘Me Generation’ tend to get stereotyped as lazy, unfocused, and needy of instant gratification. In the workplace, millennials are immediately assumed to be unreliable, overly demanding, and entitled with a general disrespect for authority. Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 who are now in the workforce has probably experienced these assumptions first hand.
Stereotypes persist because people perpetuate them. A study by energy drink V8 +Energy, which surveyed 1,000 employees in the US between the ages of 22 to 37, found these alarming statistics about millennials in the workplace:
- 30 % have fallen asleep at their work desks
- 36 % admitted lying about an illness to get off work
- 32 % admitted to being late or absent for an important meeting
- 20 % have come to work wearing clothes that were either backwards or inside out
Though many millennials fit these and other stereotypes, they are certainly not true for everyone in the generation. If too many of your colleagues think of you as a typical millennial, prove them wrong with the following tips.
Show you’re a team player
Entitlement is probably the word that’s most associated with the millennial generation. Some of these entitled behaviors include demanding a certain salary, expecting to land a job upon graduation, and thinking that one is qualified for a managerial position even without enough experience.
To prove that you’re not entitled as many of your peers, you must be willing to pay your dues, and you can start by working well with others. When working on a project, talk to your co-workers about sharing and allocating responsibilities, and then do your tasks to the best of your abilities. Ask your more seasoned colleagues for ideas and advice on how to do your job better and incorporate their pointers into your workflow. Those that can prove they are team players will be less likely to be viewed as entitled.
Steer clear of work distractions
Millennials are massive Facebook and Instagram users, spending close to three hours jumping from platform to platform every single day. If only these three hours spent on social media were conducted outside of work. Sadly, that is often not the case.
An overdependence on social media can lead to lost productivity and hours, and no employer wants that. If you really want to show that you are serious about having a career with any company, you need to shut off your social media while you’re working. Don’t worry, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you do so. Put your phone on silent, so you’re not tempted to open it after every alert, and only check it during your break times.
Develop a strong work ethic
According to the 2019 Millennial Manager Workplace Survey, 40 % of millennials admitted to having had four or more jobs since graduating from high school or college. Meanwhile, a 2016 poll by Gallup found that 21 % of millennials changed jobs within a year. These signs of fickleness can lead employers to question your commitment and work ethic. What better way to dismiss these concerns than to overdeliver and exceed expectations? Revel in challenging work situations, be meticulous with details, always come prepared, and stop complaining. Show that you are passionate, responsible, and above all, reliable. Stay consistent with these qualities, and eventually, your colleagues will come around and believe that you’re for real and for keeps.
Ask, don’t demand
A 2018 Forbes article labeled the millennial generation as “The Most High-Maintenance in the Workplace,” although the article is quick to add that the group is also “widely expected to become the most productive generation.” Whether this ‘quid pro quo’ is actually realized in today’s workplaces remains to be seen, but the fact remains that before you can ask for better privileges and compensation, you have to do a great job a first. And even when that happens, make sure to ask for better benefits, don’t demand.
Requesting your employer shows professionalism and respect, which is particularly important if you’re a new hire. The more seasoned you become, the more demanding you can afford to be, but in the meantime, make requests instead.
Thanks to social media, the millennial generation is widely accustomed to getting constant positive reinforcement. Unfortunately for those who are used to getting tons of likes and upvotes online, the workplace doesn’t work that way. Managers will rarely pat your back for a job well done, and more often than not, the only times you’ll get noticed is when you perform poorly.
Make an effort to listen more and talk less, especially when you’re around co-workers who are more experienced and knowledgeable than you are. You’ll learn more in the process, and you’ll also make a better impression with those you work with. Inform your manager that you would like constructive criticism on a consistent basis to ensure your feedback is clear, concise, and helpful. Frame your need for feedback in a way that can be of use to the organization. Say something like “I would love to have a weekly assessment of my performance to make sure I am meeting the company’s expectations.”
Workplaces don’t move at the speed of the Internet. Despite your best efforts, you can still find yourself holding on to the same job title for years. But even when that happens, it’s nothing to be afraid or ashamed of.
If your first week on the job doesn’t go as planned, stick around. If your first month feels like hell, stick around. No one is able to adapt to a job immediately, and sometimes it can take months to properly adjust to a new work environment. Try to stay in an organization for at least one year, otherwise, you could come off with a reputation as a job-hopper, which wouldn’t look good on your resume.
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