Last week, we talked about common millennial myths and ways to confront them. But what does that look like in the workplace? To learn more, we talked to GovLoop employees about ways they’ve addressed millennial stereotypes either as a young professional or as a manager.
The Virtual Communication Stereotype
I think a misconception with millennials is that we hate the phone and prefer email/text in person or phone communication… but I love the phone! I like to call clients if I find I have a quick question (or they haven’t gotten back to me via email) and I often offer phone calls to avoid long email conversations and back and forth shenanigans. One client was taken back I had called because she said the younger generation never uses the phone in her office. But part of my job is building relationships, setting expectations, and trying to provide clarity, so I try to use the best communication method as possible and that is often the phone.
– Amy DeWolf, Client Success Manager
The Young Manager Stereotype
A lot of times you’ll have a great idea but get push back because it’s new. People often don’t like change, and there is historical context you may not know about. So it’s great to talk to a lot of people on your team and different teams to socialize your ideas and gather as much historical info and feedback as you can before presenting it to the big boss. This will help show you’ve done your research and just aren’t trying to rip everything up without a strong plan.
–Christine Burke, Digital Marketing Manager
The Teleworking Stereotype
There’s the misconception (at least in some cases) that younger people want to work from home to avoid, rather than do more, work. So I’ve found that providing a firm deliverable for any day I work remotely is really helpful – it provides proof that I’m getting real work done away from the office, and by highlighting that and saying thank you for the time, it encourages your manager to give you more opportunities for that in the future.
– Hannah Moss, Senior Editor & Project Manager
The Unreliability Stereotype
I’ve run into issues about people thinking because you’re young, you just don’t know much and you’re unreliable. This was a big issue in my first job where I was managing external events. I found that being consistently organized, on time, and over-prepared helped replace that stereotype with a reputation of being good at my job.
– Leah Anderson, Senior Marketing Analyst
The Cellphone Stereotype
I personally think it’s always best to keep your cellphone at your desk or tucked away when at a meeting because it’s too much of a distraction. At my last job, several people would play games on their phones during the meeting and that’s rude and a waste of everyone’s time. Even checking emails or other work-related things on a phone while in a meeting should wait until it’s done.
– Christine Burke, Digital Marketing Manager
The Eager-to-Change Stereotype
People often think that millennials just want to come in and change things. But it’s important to work to understand why things are happening the way they are. You have to feel things out. Don’t forget about what you want to change, but find a balance. Work on giving thoughtful input—it’s a two way street, you want people to be receptive to what you have to say, but you also have to put in the work and understand the context of what you’re trying to change.
–Nicole Blake-Johnson, Technology Writer
The Irresponsible Stereotype
At a previous job, I got hit with a lot of ageism… I had the responsibility of a manager and was running the day-to-day by myself. My very off-hands manager would say I didn’t have experience and wasn’t senior to make decisions even though I was put in that situation daily. If I could do the situation over I would have asked for more support, guidance, and regular training, like trying to set weekly one-on-ones with her and set more structure in my role and career growth.
–Christine Burke, Digital Marketing Manager
The “Typical Millennial” Stereotype
I’ve worked for a boss who used to call the interns, “You Millennials.” He was great, but we always heard, “You Millennials always want to move too fast,” or “You Millennials are always on your cellphones.” I was also assigned to a lot more “techy” projects. The best way for me to handle it was to behave with the utmost professionalism and make sure I wasn’t always on my phone or checking Facebook.
-Francesca El-Attrash Ukaejiofo, Staff Writer
The Inexperienced Stereotype
At one of my previous internship positions, my boss hardly ever gave me things to work on and when she did, she micromanaged me. I would try to take initiative and ask for tasks but I often found myself blown off. This is challenging, especially for an intern, as we are already seen as the ones at the bottom of the food chain. Ultimately, when the time came to decide whether to extend the position or take a job elsewhere, I decided to move on. Sometimes employee-company relationships just don’t work out despite our best efforts and that’s okay.
-Courtney Belme, Editorial Fellow
The “Bad Communicators” Stereotype
First off, I’ll say my whole team is millennials and they’re all stellar, hard working, and great communicators, so they don’t have to bust any myths to me! But I have found that I can help them do a little bit better at their jobs by making sure I am always giving them the context behind any task or project. I find millennials don’t want to be told to just do something without understanding the why. I also work to be transparent and inclusive in decision making and what’s going on at an executive level, because I believe millennials (and anybody, really) performs better when they feel a true part of what’s going on at all levels of the company.
-Catherine Andrews, Director of Content
If you have any tips or stories for how you combat millennial stereotypes, either as a young professional or as a manager, share them in the comments below!
This post is part of GovLoop’s millennial blog series, First 5.
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