Millennial–a label given to those born between 1981 and 1996. There sure is a lot of talk about this generation in the workplace. Not great talk, at that. Millennials seem to come with stereotypes and a bad reputation before they may even start their first day working at a company.
Are you a Millennial? If so, let’s get one thing established. You don’t need to live up to the stereotype others may have placed on you. Be yourself and show your colleagues the great qualities that tend to thread through your generation. Some examples may be your push for inclusion, civic-minded goals, and sustainable practices.
Here are three ways to overcome stereotypes that may have been placed on you:
1. Make a point to understand their perspective
Their perspective. That may be hard. Perhaps your boss gets frustrated when you do not want to work on the weekend, and it seems like no matter the outcome one of you is unhappy with your quantity of work hours. Take a moment to stop and think about why your boss is getting frustrated. Is it because they value hard work, which to them translates to putting in extra hours? What is the root of the frustration?
Full disclosure here, I kind of laughed when my colleague asked me to write this blog. I’m not awful when it comes to being on time, but definitely not known for being early either! While I’d love to use my two sweet children or my husband as my excuse, the truth is I’m accountable for me.
I think that is the key – you are accountable for you. And being on time for work says something to your employer about how accountable you are to the business. Now, I recognize that many organizations have flexibility when it comes to this topic, so take that into consideration and follow (or exceed) the norm.
While I think a lot of getting to work on time is just doing it, here are a few things that I’ve found helpful to motivate and keep me running on time.
We’ve all had situations where we’ve been frustrated with our boss, and sometimes you just want to vent. Maybe you didn’t like the decision your boss made, or you feel hurt because you didn’t get the promotion or raise you thought you deserved. Maybe you are struggling with a co-worker relationship, and it’s disrupting your productivity. Should you talk to your boss about how you feel about your work or their management? What should you just keep to yourself?
Let’s face it, it could be pretty risky to put yourself out there and “complain” to your boss, especially in certain corporate cultures. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach here, and I think we could all argue that our own specific circumstance is unique. Therefore, the answer to whether or not you should give your boss critical feedback depends entirely on YOU and your personal journey. I love the way Andy Stanley talks about how to be drama free through wise decisions, and I think this method applies to any pivotal situation. Stanley suggests we look at the decision through the three lenses of past, present, and future in order to make the wise move. Consider asking yourself the following three questions:
Ah, the thought of working from home. No more commute. No chance of getting that sickness that goes around the office every winter. No need to even make a lunch to bring every day. You have your entire fridge!
Yes, it does sound glorious. And for many people, it is! But not necessarily for everyone. Is this something you have thought about? This checklist will help you evaluate if this is an option you should consider.
1. The Social Dynamic
Okay, this is perhaps the most obvious difference. Although this depends on your current workplace setting, this will most likely be a drastic change from working in an office constantly surrounded by others. I spoke with one of my dear extroverted friends about her experience working from home, and she mentioned that it was not a good fit for her because she needs more human interaction. Don’t underestimate the value of that daily talk with your colleagues at the watercooler. Everyone is different! You know yourself better than anyone else. Set yourself up for success.
On the same note, perhaps working in that office filled with people prohibits you from being productive and getting your work done. A simple walk to the restroom could suddenly bring you into a conversation about your coworker’s dog’s illness that you never asked about.
Meetings. We all have them. Some of us may dread them, some may love the opportunity to share and see our fellow coworkers. Regardless of how we may feel, meetings are likely a part of your job whether they are in person, over the phone, or virtually with a webcam. So, how do we make the most of these meetings? How do we consistently pay attention to remain engaged? It starts by being intentional.
To begin, we must set ourselves up for success. And if you’re anything like me, this means eating beforehand. As much as I like to think that I do not get “hangry,” without food…it happens. This can also prevent you from getting distracted during the meeting if it were to run late or into your lunchtime.
Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it! What we do and don’t talk about at work these days has changed. We’ve become much more open and willing to discuss things that in our parent’s day and age, they’d never dream of sharing. This is a double-edged sword–both good and bad–blurring the lines of what is considered taboo.
Before we dive into a few of the things that are a bit more acceptable to discuss these days, I’d like to preface with–no matter what is being discussed–the who, how and when of these discussions is still as important as it ever was. Water cooler conversations with peers in a gossiping manner isn’t productive or helpful. Coming in as a new employee and discussing your financial problems and family challenges, doesn’t set a good impression. As we look at my 4 things I think are valuable to discuss nowadays, keep in mind that I’m talking about with productive intentions and with the appropriate person(s).
1. Conflict – Conflict arises, and while it might seem taboo to talk about, address and deal with issues with your manager, colleagues and peers as they happen (Take time to cool down if needed before you address!). There is no value in holding onto negative feelings for prolonged periods of time. Have an open discussion, focus on listening to the other person. Ask clarifying questions. Ask that they hear your point of view. Remain calm and keep the overall objective of business performance top of mind. Work on a resolution with the person with a conflicting view point. Only bring in others when another opinion is necessary, or an agreement can’t be found and is necessary. Most times a consensus isn’t needed and agreeing to disagree is okay.
I don’t know about you but being called lazy is one of the biggest insults I think there is. I was fortunate to be raised where productivity, hard work and accountability were encouraged, which is why I’m sure that I find the term lazy so insulting. But, I do know it is an issue. Talk with any business owner or leader and I bet they’ll tell you that one of their biggest challenges is finding good employees that will show up and do the work.
Are you one of those? Are you lazy at work? While we could blame it on generations or upbringings, the reason really isn’t the important piece. What is important is how you step up and change your approach from lazy to productive. There is so much to gain for those that are on the productive and accountable side, particularly in a market that is screaming for good talent.
Do you find yourself in a new full-time role, brimming with ambition, ready to take on the world but desperately in need of a plan for your career path ahead? The steps below can be a good starting point for those who want to map out their career path or those who would like to proactively find ways to stimulate growth and retention of great employees.
Recognize that everyone has their own list of duties and responsibilities. So even the best supervisors can’t commit as much time as they would like to your development. You have to take ownership of your career path discussions – based on your own interests and planning – and not rely on someone else to start the conversation.
Before you have any discussions with your supervisor, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Assess which career paths within the organization interest you. Compare your perceived weaknesses with skills needed in the positions you aspire to. Identify those top skills you believe you may need to work on in order to even be considered. Make an outline of this assessment – maybe a clean one after your messy brainstorm – to prepare you to have a clear and succinct conversation.
“The days are long but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin. Time (and hence, life) moves quicker than we realize. If we let life happen to us, we can look back and wonder, “What if?” or feel we let opportunity slip away. If we approach life with purpose and direction, we’re more likely to accomplish personal and professional aspirations. One of the best ways to do this is to have a clear plan that gives you direction, clarity of purpose and allows you to communicate with others what you aspire to achieve! To get started, create a five-year plan. Start at year five and work backwards, setting benchmarks by year or clearly defined goals.
o Know and invest in your strengths.
o Describe what experiences in your industry or organization you believe is important and realistic.
I fall into a unique age bracket where some people consider me to be a millennial and others consider me a member of Generation X, point being, I kept my first job out of college for nearly 13 years and that makes me a bit of an oddity. So, as you can imagine the choice to start exploring other opportunities was a daunting one. Speaking from my experience, below are some things to evaluate when deciding whether or not changing jobs is the right decision for you.
Are You Happy?
Honestly, this made the top of my list because just recently I ran into someone I worked with in my previous career who asked if I was happy now that I have made a career change. My guess is the question came from her assumption that I wasn’t happy which led to my decision to make the change I did. This seems like a fair analysis, but there are so many components of a career that can make you happy or unhappy. Leadership, job duties, compensation, etc.
According to the AgCareers.com Candidate Motivation and Behavior Survey, dissatisfaction with their boss or supervisor has a high level of correlation to the likelihood of that person changing jobs. The same question shows that satisfaction with coworkers appears to have less impact on employees searching for another job. I will say for me, this was one of the things that kept me happy for many years in my career. I felt committed to my teammates as much as I did my supervisors. But when you reach a point when you are no longer happy with the direction of leadership, your compensation, or the day to day tasks of your job, then it is probably time to explore a change.