If you’re a young Gen Y-er just entering the workforce, I hate to break it to you: you’re going to encounter plenty of people who will assume that you’re going to perform a certain way in the workplace simply because of your age.
I don’t think I really need to sugar coat this for anyone: Millennials are pretty frequently colored as self-centered, self-promoting slackers. I’ll admit – as someone who’s teetering somewhere in the no-man’s land between Gen Y and Gen X, I identify more with Gen Y, but there have been plenty times when I’ve found myself thinking, “Kids these days!” (I know this makes me sound old. Shut up.) That being said, every generation has a few bad apples – and plenty of amazing, hard-working individuals. Yes, Gen Y included!
We can all agree that generational stereotypes suck – but overcoming these age-based stereotypes requires more than just the mere acknowledgement of their existence. It demands a diligent, unwavering commitment to consistently exceeding expectations. If you’re new to the workforce, here are nine tips to help you avoid being labeled as a Gen Y cliche.
1. Respect Your Elders
Yes, I realize this makes me sound about 80 years old, but hear me out. We millennials are naturally independent and have a knack for teaching ourselves how to do just about anything. To other generations, this level independence can make you seem like a know-it-all. It’s important to remember that while we have the entire internet at our fingertips and know how to use it, there is a lot you can still learn from older professionals in your field! Learn from their experience and ask them questions. Not only will it help crush that stereotype, but it will show others that you’re enthusiastic about your career – and as an added bonus, it’ll make the person you’re asking feel pretty special.
2. Be Upfront
Whether you’re interviewing for a job that you really only consider as a stepping stone or are discussing a timeline with your coworkers, tell people what you’re really thinking. (Disclaimer: I take no blame if you go bonkers with the F-word tomorrow!) Don’t go into things with ulterior motives or unexposed expectations because even if they can’t see through it at first, they’re certain to figure it out eventually. In short, keep the lines of communication open.
3. Put Stock in Relationships
Gen Y moves at about a mile a minute. We’re constantly on the go and network like there’s no tomorrow. The downside is that other generations go about relationship building in a different way. Slow down and take a few extra minutes to show others that their thoughts and expertise really matter to you.
4. Adapt to Others
Be willing to bend, even if doing so means taking the longer or slower path. We all have certain strengths and weaknesses! So while it may be easier to approach others’ shortcomings like a bull in a china cabinet, sometimes it’s better in the long run if we’re empathetic and willing to let them do their best.
5. Be Proactive
If you’re a young professional in a multi-generation office, guess what: chances are, all eyes will be on your performance. If you’re all out of things to do, your natural instinct may be to log onto Facebook or log onto gchat and talk with a friend. Instead, save the internet browsing for your lunch hour and take this opportunity to be proactive and earn some brownie points. Clean your desk, help organize the office or ask your colleagues if they need help with anything. You’ll quickly become a shining star in the eyes of your boss!
6. Be Patient
This circles back a bit to tip #3. Slow down. While we can and should expect instantaneous results for a lot of things in this day and age, some things just cannot be rushed. If they are, the efficacy of the result may be critically damaged. Be willing to wait for some things.
7. Reign in Those Emotions
I’m just going to say it: we’re known for throwing around a lot of passionate rhetoric without backing it up with real action. So before you go on a heated, loquacious rant, take a deep breath. Is this just a moment, just a phase? Or are you truly committed to the stance you’re about to articulate?
8. Follow Through
If you tell someone you’re going to do something, do it. From promising a report to following up with a client, you cannot let things slide for any reason. Excuses about being “too busy” or “not having enough time” won’t just fall on deaf ears – they’ll fall on expectant ears.
9. Give It Your All
This one is probably the most difficult of all because, frankly, giving it your all day in and day out is exhausting as all get out. But I never said overcoming the stereotype was going to be easy, so buck up and try your damnedest till the cows come home!
Think you’re ready to jump on board? Good, but I’ve got one more tip to send your way: tell your friends! The stereotype that you’re facing as a Millennial is one that our entire generation is challenged by. So let’s find strength in numbers, and start making stuff happen together.
For more millennial-focused tips, check out the Gen Y category on the Good.Co blog!