How Do You Get Over the Millennial Stereotypes?

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 6 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #182207

    Steve Ressler

    In our recent online training on Navigating Your Early Years, we had a number of questions around “navigating across generations.”

    Any tips for the folks below?

    • As a young employee, how do you get over the “milleniall” (laze, self centered) stereotypes with older Federal employees as you work you way up the ladder?
    • On the topic of dealing with the generation mix (millenialls, generation x, and older colleagues) in the workplace, how can the younger audience develop these relationships in order to harness the org. knowledge the older workers possess?
  • #182252

    Steve Ressler

    Couple tips I’ve provided to folks over the year:

    -Actions speak louder than words. So easiest way to get over stereotype is just to be “good.” Show up early, stay late, complete your work on time and awesome. Dress professionally. Just be awesome.

    -In terms of developing relationships with older co-workers, everyone loves to be asked for advice. So take people to coffee, ask for advice on a project

  • #182250

    Michelle Burdeaux

    I think you’re right on. I’ve always found that letting my work speak for itself is a great way to start, and everyone wants to feel valued, so if you ask for advice or help in a thoughtful way, then you’re making the right connection and allies. Also… thoughtful recognition works- praising anyone for their work because they deserve it breaks down walls, for the most part.

  • #182247

    Gary Lyon

    As an ‘older’ State government employee I think the challenge is much about what GovLoop says…produce results, show commitment, be trustworthy (see attachment) and loyal and be open to the ‘contextual’ skills more experienced employees have developed over a lifetime of experience. By ‘contextual’, I mean that integrative thinking is developed over time, so while an older employee may not be as up-to-date on some aspects (technology, etc.) they are likely to have a more integrative way of looking at things that can offer a great deal to any challenge you face. One of the best mentors I had as a young(er) employee was one of the first female executives at IBM; a big accomplishment in those days. She helped me understand more about developing my ‘integrative thinking’ skills than anyone since and was hugely influential in helping me understand the nature of organization politics. Look for people like that and ask them to be your advisor/mentor….very flattering to that person and an immense opportunity to gain perspective. I can’t speak for others but I really want you to be successful, but I need to know you have good character before I am willing to invest time in helping you.

  • #182245

    Understand that older workers are intimidated by your skills. Try to have compassion for them rather than feeling like they look down on you.

    Use your technology skills to automate everything possible, within what is acceptable to the bureaucracy – eg don’t break the rules to make a point, genuinely lift all ships.

    Find the meaning in your work and hold onto that when it gets frustrating.

    Educate your boss in how to work with you.

    Focus on accomplishing goals through teams that you form proactively. Don’t wait.

  • #182243

    David Dean

    What is wrong with the Boss educating you as to what is expected of you?

  • #182241

    In my encounters with employees of all generations I have found it helpful when they tell me what works for them. Some employees need a lot of structure, ie written guidelines. Others are annoyed by this and feel micromanaged. For another example, some employees like instant chat while others find it breaks their concentration. A third example – some employees like “drive by” in person meetings while others want notice a couple of days ahead of time. If you tell your boss what works for you it helps them to customize assignments in a way that sets you up for success. Everybody in the end just wants to get the work done and look good doing it.

  • #182239

    David Dean

    Do you advocate having a different agency guideline and procedures manual for each employee? In your opinion should employees be in a position to pick and chose what work they wish to perform. What you advocate appears to be very labor intensive work on the behalf of the supervisor. In my time as a supervisor, and manager, I assigned work to the next person in line. What about labor agreements with Unions? Some where in the neighbor of 92% or all federal employees are, not necessarily members, but are represented by a labor Union.

  • #182237

    The question is what can Millennials do. My response is to work with your supervisor and adjust your attitude as appropriate. We can’t legislate everything not should we. Great performance is a partnership that does require a lot of effort from the supervisor.

  • #182235

    David Dean

    It would be extremely interesting to be a fly on the wall when a GS-7/9 told a GS 13/14/15 that he or she did not need supervision, or ignore instructions. It is doubtful the employee would make it through the probation period. In Department of Defense, Army, Navy (Marines) I shutter to think what would transpire if the same comment was made to an 0-5 or 06.

    From being both a military member (under Title 5 active duty military are not considered employees), and civil servant I question some of the information some people on the web site share. Every federal office has a Policy and Procedure Manuel or a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) handbook. In almost all cases the new employee will be given the Manual to read and sign they have read the document. Rarely is the is it one book. I do not remember being allowed over 30 minutes to read and sign. The term “and understand” is not included, only I have read, sighed and dated.

  • #182233

    That is an important point. However, we are talking about apples and oranges here.

    1) Diversity and Inclusion

    Working with employees to accommodate differences in work style is not only good management but a Federal priority under the umbrella of Diversity and Inclusion. See below from President Obama’s Executive Order 13583:

    • “Our Nation derives strength from the diversity of its population….our greatest accomplishments are achieved when diverse perspectives are brought to bear to overcome our greatest challenges.”

    See Goal 2 of OPM’s Strategic Plan:

    Honoring difference is essential to being a supervisor in the Federal government.

    2) SOPs

    Agreed on emphasizing the critical importance of SOPs to effective management. This is a good definition:

    • “An SOP is a procedure specific to your operation that describes the activities necessary to complete tasks in accordance with industry regulations, provincial laws or even just your own standards for running your business. Any document that is a “how to” falls into the category of procedures.” (Source: Brampton Small Business Enterprise Centre)

    I would appreciate any examples of SOP handbooks from the community.

  • #182231

    David Dean

    Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 261 & nn.6-7, 19 EPD ¶ 9240 (1979). Although the forms vary, veterans’ preferences generally fall into one of four categories: (1) preference in appointment, (2) preference in promotion, (3) preference in retention, and (4) additional substantive and procedural protections in disciplinary or removal actions not accorded to nonveterans. B. Schlei and P. Grossman, Employment Discrimination Law, 434 & nn.295-99 (2d ed. 1983).

  • #182229

    Julie Chase

    In our organization we had to write our SOP and make a turn over jacket. We took a week long class at another base several yrs ago. Most of it was based on mission….PD specific and what David Dean pointed out. In fed service everything you do is “spelled out” . If you have an idea to share on how to build a better mouse trap as a GS7….you tell your supervisor and he/she will point you to the DoD DoN regulation that reads “no can do”. There is a set work practice…a set number of hours to work. Lunch and breaks are set. Shifts are set. Hierarchy within the Directorate are regulated. There are titles and that is not going away anytime soon. It would be like throwing a deck of cards in the air. We work…in my case to support the military. We work when they work….we are open for business based on their needs. I find it difficult to understand. …..not being mean or anything. …for folks on GovLoop to understand that this “is the way it is”. As a newbie fed over 10 yrs ago I thought the way DoN procures goods…supplies was insane. I was immediately handed the regulation from the contracting office stating….NAVSUP xxxxx….para 4 section c….reads goods and supplies will be procured this way. I just rolled with it. Yeah it takes mountain of paper and outdated forms…..but that is the way it is. And if m illennials think that is going to change they are whistling up a rope.

  • #182227

    David Dean

    . SUBJECT. Policy Guidance on Veterans’ Preference Under Title VII.

    2. PURPOSE. This policy document sets forth the Commission’s position on the scope of the veterans’ preference provision contained in Section 712 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-11 (1982).1

    3. EFFECTIVE DATE. Upon issuance.

    4. EXPIRATION DATE. As an exception to EEOC Order 205.001, Appendix B, Attachment 4, § a(5), this notice will remain in effect until rescinded or superseded.

    5. ORIGINATOR. Title VII/EPA Division, Office of Legal Counsel.

    6. INSTRUCTIONS. This notice supplements the discussion in Section 604.10(e) of the EEOC Compliance Manual, Volume II, Section 604, Theories of Discrimination. The notice should be filed as an appendix to that section.


    Statutory Preferences

    The federal government and virtually all of the states grant some form of employment preference to veterans.2 Veterans’ preference laws have traditionally been justified as measures designed to reward veterans for the sacrifice of military service, to ease the transition from military to civilian life, to encourage patriotic service, and to attract loyal and well-disciplined people to civil service occupations.3 However, as a result of long-standing federal statutes, regulations, and policies that have excluded women or sharply limited women’s eligibility to serve in the armed forces and also of the fact that women have never been subjected to a military draft, only a very small percentage of veterans are women4 and, consequently, veterans’ preference statutes operate overwhelmingly to the advantage of men.5

    Despite their potential for adversely affecting the employment opportunities of women, veterans’ preferences accorded pursuant to statute are not subject to challenge under Title VII by virtue of the exception provided in Section 712 of the Act.6 That section states:

    This is not apples and oranges, it is federal statute.

  • #182225

    David Dean

    You are 100% present right. Veteran rights trumps diversity and affirmative action. My how many people n the web sites are trained in the personnel series GS-0201/0232/0233. People tend to cite non-federal publications. The only material that matters is federal citations.

  • #182223

    David Dean

    Finalists with Adjudicated Veterans’ Preference

    The on-line lists of Finalists have preference categories clearly identified that are viewable by registered agency users on the PMF website. Additionally, the list of Finalists on the public PMF website will indicate “Yes” for those Finalists whose veterans’ preference claim was favorably adjudicated.

    If a Finalist is a veteran and he/she expresses an interest in working for an agency, that agency must apply the provisions of section 302 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, when selecting and appointing candidates. For purposes of the PMF Program, “expresses an interest” means that the Finalist has applied to an agency’s posted announcement for consideration for appointment to a specific position. This does not mean an agency must contact each veteran on the list of Finalists. (NOTE: This being appealed DD.)

    Each applicant pool is unique. The applicant pool consists of those Finalists who applied for a posted position.

    If the agency selects a non-veteran Finalist over a preference eligible veteran Finalist it must prepare a written justification as to why the veteran Finalist did not meet the criteria for the position. Decisions must be qualifications driven and based on the specific requirements detailed in the position. The written justification accomplishes two objectives:

    1. Veteran Finalists are entitled, upon request, to obtain a copy of the reasons they were passed over in favor of a non-veteran Finalist. The written justification is intended to satisfy that obligation and thus should be written with the expectation that the veteran Finalist who was passed over may request to review it.
    2. Additionally, if OPM officials audit the agency’s PMF process, the written justification serves as documentation that veteran Finalists who was part of the agency applicant pool for said position received proper consideration.

    Application of veterans’ preference during the appointing agency’s selection process is the responsibility of the appointing agency. All Federal Agencies are aware of veterans’ preference and must have procedures in place to consider in their selection process. Veteran Finalists may review the Vets Guide for more information.

    UPDATED: 09-30-2013

    (Down loaded from the OPM website. Look at Veteran Preference and PMF. Does not appear to have changed for the 2014 class.)

  • #182221

    This is curious to me. The military is the source of so much innovation and yet so “locked down.” How does creativity happen?

    Second question, what can Millennials do to express their individuality? Nothing?

    I don’t mean to sound simplistic or sarcastic. I am genuinely asking, as someone who does not know.

  • #182219

    Terrence Hill

    As a baby-boomer, I’m most impressed by the millenials’ drive to serve in their community. They should capitalize on this spirit of service and dedicate to selflessly serving others both inside their agency and in their communities. I agree that actions speak louder than words and those actions include serving others!

  • #182217

    Peter Sperry

    The military is very large and much more diverse than people realize. There are pockets of both creativity and backwardness. Many officers and senior NCOs do indeed adopt the attitudes described above and carry them into their post military careers in government or the private sector. But many other officers and NCOs embrace an ethos of “Accomplish the Mission; Care for the Troops”. These are the leaders who build great organizations in or out of uniform. Thankfully, there are actually many more of the latter than the former. They just do not comment very often, preferring to let their actions speak louder than words.

    Millennials, or anyone else, can best express their individuality in two ways. First, be your authentic self. Do not try to live up to or avoid a stereotype. Just do the best job you are capable of, treat others as you would have them treat you and let the chips fall where they may. Second, if you find yourself in an environment described by David or Julie, start job hunting hard and fast. Toxic bosses and coworkers will drag you down like crabs in a basket. Get out and find a more enriching office to build your career.

    Managers of millenials should deal with them the same as anyone else. Treat them as individuals. Identify their strengths and weaknesses. Help them to learn. Most importantly, recognize there generational label is only one part of who they are and not necessarily the most important. A female transgendered Jewish disabled veteran of mixed race heritage embraces so many stereotypes both employee and manager would need a field manual just to understand them all. It is so much easier to embrace the diversity of individuals as individuals rather than a collection of stereotypes.

  • #182215

    Julie Chase

    Yes, the MIC is locked down. That is the way it is. Security reasons. Down in the trenches where the rule of law is passed down….everything from what you will do, day to day and what you will not do. To take a phrase from the old Ten Commandments movie, “So it is written, so it shall be done.”

    Second question: Pretty much, nothing. I have been in contact with many millenials over the years and they have expressed their concerns. These concerns, issues….go unanswered, OR….they are told, “this is the way it is”. So it is no wonder they move on.


    * what version of CAD is currently running on gov computers. (this was in 2008).

    Answer: 2006

    * what do you mean no thumb drives?

    Answer: security reasons (and this is still in force today)

    * why can’t I take my cell phone to work? (this is the case of production in the hangers of tenant command vs and office)

    Answer: Because cell phones pose a security risk. You can’t take a picture of yourself and your co workers standing in front of the latest aircraft in re-fit.

    * why is my cell phone subject to confescation if I bring it?

    Answer: Again, big sign out in front of gate: CELL PHONES NOT ALLOWED BEYOND THIS POINT. You are on miltary installation. Your rights are “limited”.

    * why can’t I listen to Spotify or Pandora on a gov computer while I am working?

    Answer: it takes up bandwidth and the gov is not there for you to use it’s computer as your personal toy. It is for use only. Read the warning banner when you log in.

    * I have a great idea to minimize the length of procurement of goods and services, why I am ignored?

    Answer: you are but a cog in the wheel of the machine, another brick in the wall. There is a NAVSUP that is written on this matter and you shall follow it, until another is written.

    No, Dannielle, you are not being sarcastic. I am glad you ask the question. I can only speak from down here….what I experience as do others, millenials who are joining us and why they soon move on, or just don’t apply.

    The military is on innovative from the “top” down. Not the other way around.

    Military installations are the bread and butter of the communities where they reside. Without them, these communities would be a ghost town. This is the reality. We serve the troops. We do our best with what we have. It is an honor to do so.

    Semper Fi

  • #182213

    David Dean

    I would venture to say both Julie and I agree with Peter to some extent. Julie from the perspective of a current federal employee, and me from the aspect of retired military and retired from the federal civil service. Of course individuals should be recognized for what they bring to the table. A bloated sense of self-worth and ego is not going to advance one’s career. The corporate culture in the federal environment is the concept of the team aspect. Individuality is seldom appreciated. The entire federal civil service, not just the military, is process driven.

    If a young employee, or prospective employee, asked me what was the most important function of the work day, my response would be, “Get to work on time each morning.” Most federal supervisors are time NAZIs. Let me explain. With the exception of employees on administratively uncontrollable overtime, time is recorded in some form or fashion each work day. If a federal supervisor falsifies a time card (mostly electronic now) the supervisor can be disciplined.

    The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines exempt and non-exempt employees. All supervisors, confidential employees, employees in policy making positions, not work leaders, are exempt from the FLSA. Good rule of thumb, though not writ in stone, GS-13s and above will almost always be exempt from the FLSA. There is a block on the SF-50 that denotes exempt or non-exempt employees; there is a block for everything in the federal government. Exempt employees are salaried employees. They can be required to work overtime with monetary remuneration. Interns are not salaried employees. Very few new hires are salaried employees.

    FLSA non-exempt employees, approximately 85% of all federal employees, are covered by the FLSA. The standard federal work week is 40 hours, Monday through Friday with the exception of shift work and holidays. The non-exempt employees schedule will normally be a 40 hours’ work week, eight hours per day, with a 30 minutes non-paid lunch and a 15 minute break of paid time each morning and each afternoon. Break time and lunch time cannot be combined. A non-exempt employee cannot work overtime without supervisory approval. To do otherwise is insubordination, and is punishable under Agency discipline guide lines. If a supervisor knows, or should have known, a non-exempt employee has worked overtime the non-exempt employee must be compensated with the non-exempt employees choosing of overtime pay or compensatory time. The non-exempt employee cannot be forced to accept compensatory time. If a non-exempt employee is forced to take compensatory time after requesting overtime pay it is appealable to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). The Agency will lose the case. The FLRA for federal employees is the counterpart of the National Labor Relations Authority (NLRA) for the private sector.

    The labor agreement negotiated with the applicable Union will also apply. Most non-exempt federal employees are covered by the bargaining unit. Paid membership in the Union is probably 15-20% of the eligible employees. The Union must represent all of the members of the bargaining unit whether or not the members pay dues. Union officials are given official (paid time) time off from jobs to represent the bargaining unit members. Some Union officials are given 100% paid time, i.e., they are fulltime agency employees that are excused from their regular jobs to represent the bargaining unit members. I do not have any intention of discussing the validity of official time. There is a block on the SF-50 that denotes as to whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt from the FLSA. This is a brief explanation that does not pretend to scratch the surface. I underwent a three years Army Career Internship in federal personnel, and worked as a GS-233-11/12 for six years.

    The underlying structure of federal employee is a function of federal statute, Code of Federal Regulation, Agency regulation, policies and procedures, and supervisory discretion. Supervisory discretion is controlled by all of the above. Employees already in the system are always a factor for new hires or interns to consider.

    When new hires and interns are brought into the employment mix the organization with the corporate culture is already in place with employees in place. A GS-04 part-time temporary intern without a security clearance, or a new hire at the entrance level will seldom be afforded the privilege of participating in policy making activities.

    In the federal civil service, as in the military, there is a chain of command, rank structure, and last but not least a pecking order.

    Old tuna commercial, “Charlie people do not want tuna with good taste, they want tuna that taste good.” New hires and interns are hired based on education, education training and experience, or a combination thereof. They are not going to enter the workplace at the policy making level. For better or worse, like it or not, all will undergo a gofer period.

    The most powerful and successful members of a legislative body (Congress, state, city or county) are the people that have an in-depth grasp of the rules. Learn the rules first, use them to your advantage, and good things will follow.

  • #182211

    Julie Chase

    Yes, chain of command. I should know this. Perfect David. Understood. I think DoD is different machine than most other agencies. It is run differently.

    Time is watched like a hawk. My DH used to go through “formation” in the hanger every morning and “attendance” was taken. (just about like the military). My DH was a shop steward and was often plagued by millenials wanting to exercise their rights over their personal property (cell phone). He had to explain to them, that once you show your CAC through the main gate, your rights are limited. Once you slide your card through the cattle gate at the compound, your cell phone does not accompany you.

    In an office setting, you cannot plug your smart phone into a gov computer. Your “wireless” capabilities are very limited. There is a “reason” for that.

    As a GS, I don’t have bargaining rights. Overtime for WG must go through a prior approval process, up the chain of command. If the upper tier does not see it warranted, it does not happen. If production gets back logged, so be it.

    GovLoopers need to understand this concept, lest they believe everything is akin to what goes on in the DC offices. LinkedIn, Facebook and who you know, will not get you a job. Mr. Dean has explained clearly why that is so.

  • #182209

    Katharine Greenlee

    Hi Steve,

    A respectful workflow between different generations working in the same office is necessary for citizens to get the most out of public officials. The two young professionals in your post, and students moving towards the workforce, would do well to review the following resources, which review modern management culture’s perception of the next generation, tips for moving into the profession on sound footing, and proven tactics for working across generations. Let me know if these resources are helpful!



    [email protected]

    “Millennials: What Other Generations Say About You” –

    “Millennials: Tips for Building A Foundation for Success” –

    “Four Generations Learning to Work Better Together” –

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