Millennials, or Generation Y, are those individuals born between 1980 and 1995. These young adults are entering the workforce enmasse and, once baby boomers begin to retire, but only after our 201k/s become 401 k/s again, will become the new middle management working class. These young adults, in three years or so, will be the predominant factor in the next great companies. They will be doing the work. They will be prepared. Fingers crossed.
A precursor to career advancement is earning respect from your bosses and your co-workers. It is like the sophomore basketball player who might be good enough to make the varsity in a couple of years. He is earning the respect of his coaches and teammates even now, by working hard, attending extra practices, doing all the drills and so on. This respect, whether or not accompanied by an increase in talent, has earned him a place on the bench. I might well be wrong…“frequently wrong, never in doubt”…but I think some Generation Y workers could care less about “respect.” Instead they believe that charisma and sheer talent as they define it will serve them into the future. They believe that their place on the bench is assured, just ‘cuz.
Here are ten things to earn respect now in the workplace.
1. Master email communication. Learn every tool and technique there is to better communicate via email. To the point: write well. Don’t use “ur,” when you should use “you’re.” Get in the habit of re-reading your emails and editing them. I am not sure if sloppy spelling and poor writing can be switched off when you get that middle manager spot. Study a basic punctuation textbook again…the first time, chances are you didn’t see the value of it. Eats, Shoots and Leaves is my favorite.
2. Don’t complain. Or even whine. Have you ever noticed how performers hardly ever complain, they simply figure out a way to solve problems? If you complain now, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of bitchin’ and moaning.
3. Learn new stuff. Trust me, you probably do not know everything you will need to know in the future. Get a mentor and find out what you don’t know now. Us boomers feel very paternal toward this group. We want to help. Taking charge of this process will earn you respect.
4. Don’t say stupid stuff. When chit chatting in the office, be careful what you say. Does your dad believe that 9/11 was a government conspiracy? Don’t bring this up. Did your grandma spend a weekend with aliens on their ship? Don’t admit this. Do you think the stock market is fixed to make the middle class lose all their money? Don’t bring this up, either.
5. Take the iron out. Seriously. It might have been fun to put that piercing post through your eyebrow, but unless you want a career flipping burgers, take it out at work. And, if you are thinking about that way-cool tattoo that goes down your arm clear to your wrist, please don’t.
6. Manners matter. Remember those things that Mom and Dad lectured you about? Do those things, except more. Say Please and Thank You. Open the door for others. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Etc.
7. It is not multi-tasking, it is just rude. I remember once when I was talking with someone I respected, his phone rang. Instead of answering it, he just let it ring. He said he wanted to concentrate on our conversation, and just because someone was calling did not make the call more important than speaking directly with me. Nowadays, I see people in meetings busily texting one another. It is not being more efficient, you are losing concentration and focus.
8. Watch out for Facebook and MySpace. On Oprah the other day, some teenager was trying to defend herself after she posted pictures being drunk and throwing up. Her defense was silly–”why do people care what I do in my free time?” They just do. Facebook recruiting is a huge area now and we all should know more about how and what happens, good and bad.
9. Intimate details of your life should stay that way. Relationship news and activities are subjects for your friends, not your co-workers. Lose the drama and gain respect.
10. Get engaged, show some passion, show up every day ready to work. I have heard too many coaches say the one thing they love about Billy is that he shows up every day for practice, ready and willing to work. It amazes me constantly how many people call in sick on Mondays and Fridays. Do we have “stupid” written on our foreheads or what? (don’t answer that)
Final two points: suppose you want to turn over a new leaf, is it too late to do so at your current company? No. If you want to find a new company that treats its employees great, you can conduct a simple search at Linkup.com, it is the best and only job search engine that finds ONLY company jobs off company websites, a huge huge huge advantage.