Millennials seem to have a bad reputation, especially in the workplace. They’ve heard the mantra over and over that they’re lazy, privileged, entitled and don’t know the value of hard work. But is it really true? And how can an entire generation, literally millions of people, be lumped together under one umbrella stereotype? If you find yourself in this category of being in your 20’s and early 30’s with colleagues and managers that lump you into a Millennial generation stereotype that is unfairly impacting your image (and potential opportunities), there are some steps you can take to change their perception:
1. Dress for the Job You Want, Not the Job You Have
If you want to be the creative director, dress like one! If you want to be a powerful leader, find that suit that shows you mean business and that exudes your confidence. Wondering what to wear? Always go with the attitude of “dressing yourself up one level” for your success. People will see it and you will step into the day/project/team differently as well. I was recently a part of helping a company hire a new executive. This candidate came to the interview in a low key outfit (with stains). It wasn’t fitting for the position and it was a bit of a slight to the company. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job partly because she didn’t dress for the job.
2. Listen More, Talk Less
Find out what is going on for others. Ask many, many questions that will help you learn what is going on for people. Find out what is important to them and what pain they have. If you can listen, you can learn how to solve their pain in a meaningful way. If you know that someone is struggling with workflow, ask how they would want it to be instead, then see if there are opportunities for you to help via ideas or resources to make it happen. This will help them see you as a someone who is there for them and there with them.
3. Sit Down with your Boss or Colleagues and Confront the Issue Head-On – Hint: Don’t Be Defensive!
Tell people what is going on for you, what you have tried, what you want to try and where you might need help. Do this without blame. If you can come from a problem solving perspective that shows you want to get to the same end goal and that you have the will to make it happen together with them. They will not only listen they will be inspired to help!
4. Mirror the Behavior of Successful Leaders in your Company or Industry
Look at what others are doing that leads to success. Find those mentors that can help you to become the leader you want to be. Take them out for coffee. Ask what they did and what they do that creates success for them? Find out what worked in their world and then alter the approach to fit your style and your strengths.
5. Create a Win/Win Situation
We all have needs that we are motivated to fulfill. If you come across to others as if you are making it all about you, people will be turned off and less likely to help. When going for a goal, work to find something that will meet the needs of the other person as well as yourself. See how you can help them in the process. If needed, make it about them – authentically about them before creating a space of “I want…”.
Want to learn more about how to work better with different generations? Check out our book The Future of Everything: ‘Narrowing the Generational Divide’, page 57