Joining in the workforce as a young millennial can be treacherous at times. There are differences between how millennials operate than Gen X or even boomers. So how can millennials get ahead at work?
To get ahead at work, practice the three points of caution and focus on three points of advantage for millennials.
Put Your Phone Down and Pick It Up
It seems counter-intuitive, but in a way, millennials should put their phones down and pick them up. Meaning: we spend way too much time staring down at our phones wondering what’s new in our social media universe.
Sure, we all need to take a breather and let our mind wander for a few minutes each day, but if we are heads down to our screen as we walk to the break room, to lunch, etc., we will miss out on connections around us. So put your phone down!
Also, pick that phone back up. I don’t know what your working situation is, but have worked on remote teams in the past. So often my communications happen over instant messaging. Can all the millennials relate?!
The truth is that tough conversations sometimes need to happen over the phone and when we create a habit of communicating through text, email, or instant messenger, we’re less likely to use the appropriate medium when the situation warrants it.
Don’t Jump Ahead
While the haters call millennials ‘entitled’, I’d like to flip the script and call them ‘driven’. The truth is that millennials have seen some of the quickest advances in technology in their lifetime. They’re used to convenience, instant gratification, and having everything when they need and want it.
The caution here is to not walk too closely along the driven/entitled line. Is it possible that millennials really are driven, but that their expected time for results has been molded by the world they grew up in?
Keep working hard and stay patient. Results come when you work the process!
Avoid Muddying the Water with Hot Topics
If only companies provided some kind of guide on how to conduct yourself. Oh, that’s right. Most companies do!
There’s a reason companies enforce mandatory ethics and discrimination training. It’s because the wrong conversations are occurring every day in the workplace.
Millennials tend to hold strong convictions about their interests. Does this bleed into conversations at work that are better had in a coffee shop?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about working with colleagues 40 hours a week or more, it’s better to not muddy the water with controversial conversations.
Utilize Rookie Smarts
“How does what we know get in the way of what we don’t know, but perhaps need to learn?” – Liz Wiseman
Liz poses this question to challenge people to consider if experience can actually be a detriment. In many cases, millennials are at an advantage because of their rookie approach to work.
Rookies are more likely to think outside the box and avoid limiting thoughts based on experience.
Use your curiosity and fresh new perspective in your workplace to shed new light on old ideas and projects.
Do you remember early in your life when you would try to remember a fact, place, event, or person? You would discuss it with someone else and go back and forth, convinced you are right.
That never happens anymore. Why? We can find the answers to our questions in seconds.
Have you ever considered that your tendency to quickly retrieve answers is actually to your advantage?
Once I watched a millennial start in the workplace and focus in on a particular underlining of the job. They were not directed to, but they used outside resources to learn about the areas of the job that nobody else in the past had.
One of the stereotypes assigned to millennials is that they can’t draw the line between work relationships and personal friendships.
This is of course a caution, but also an advantage. In the workplace, relationships are everything. Relationships can help you solve problems, create new ideas, and build healthy teams.
Millennials can use this natural tendency to get ahead at work.
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