Millennials have been a trending topic for LinkedIn articles, conference presentations, organization strategy sessions, and business conversations. My newsfeeds are constantly filled with Millennial articles and to be honest I’m kind of done with it. (Okay yes I’m writing this blog to weigh in with my thoughts, but after this I’m seriously done!) I am done with articles that blanket the entire Millennial generation with negative stereotypes, broad characteristics, and generalized management tactics. As a result, I typically avoid Millennial articles and even the word “Millennial” all together. Organizations and thought leaders have in many cases made Millennial a condescending or negative word because they are failing to understand employees in this demographic. They think Millennials are all the same and this is causing an even bigger problem due to extreme misconceptions. Some organizations also seem to think that because Millennials are the “latest trend” that having one on your team is like having the latest “business accessory” without properly leveraging Millennials as professionals. Then there is the other end of the spectrum. There are the employers and hiring managers who don’t want to even consider hiring Millennials because they think all Millennials are lazy, have unrealistic work expectations, and are entitled. News flash, this is absolutely false.
Last year I saw a speaker from IBM present about the study their organization did on the generations in their workplace. They busted some of the myths while demonstrating some of the truths behind the Millennial Generation. IBM is also a great example of an organization with significant experience incorporating and leveraging Millennials as part of their workforce’s competitive advantage. Take a look at their study and infographic for what their research uncovered.
“In a multigenerational study of 1,784 employees from organizations across 12 countries and 6 industries, we compared the preferences and behavioral patterns of Millennials with those of Gen X (aged 35–49) and Baby Boomers (aged 50–60). We discovered that Millennials want many of the same things their older colleagues do. While there are some distinctions among the generations, Millennials’ attitudes are not poles apart from other employees.”
Don’t Be a Useless Millennial
Millennials, despite supportive research, unfortunately we are not off the hook quite so easy. We have been stereotyped as useless, demanding, lazy etc. and some of these ideas seem to have stuck. So my Millennial friends, I challenge you to avoid the trap by breaking the negative thought process about you as part of a “useless Millennial” generation before it fosters or becomes the norm in your workplace:
- Communicate well and respond – Communication is critical and a skill that transcends any position or generation. It is a key component of any role so if you feel you need to master it further, take steps to do so. At the very least, respond! Give yourself a response deadline for any type of communication so you can demonstrate care and efficiency to people internally and externally connected to your organization.
- Show up early or stay late – Not everyone is at the office and functioning at 7am but if you are kudos to you, early bird! Sometimes going the extra mile means putting in that half hour at the beginning or at the end of the day to set yourself and your organization up well for the rest of the week. This may also mean taking work home, accommodating meetings outside of working hours, or coming in on a day off to plow through work when it’s quieter and you don’t have day to day interruptions.
- Go the extra mile – This means different things for different organizations but taking the time to think about how you can make a distinct impact will not only benefit your organization as a whole, but will help you develop professionally and find greater fulfillment.
- Prepare, provide, and collaborate – Once you determine how you can make an impact, depending upon the scope, you may need to gain buy-in to make your ideas a reality. Do this by preparing your ideas and thought process in advance, providing documents or supporting information to present them in a compelling manner, then collaborate with co-workers and leaders to strategize on implementation.
And finally – “Just Keep Swimming” – Yes I’ll admit, “adulting” is hard and life changes can be difficult as you buy a house, get married, have kids, figure out work/life balance or go through a variety of other life adjustments but just keep swimming and you will get it done! If you’re in a rut one week take proactive steps to make the next day better: make a list, ask for help, clear your schedule that night and evaluate how you are spending your time, or take time to relax and recharge!
Jaysa Toet is a Partner with Acuity HR Solutions where she leads the Recruitment Division.