There have already been several occasions in my brief career where I have sat in meetings, listened at conferences and participated in one-on-one conversations and been told what millennials are and are not. I always leave with one common thought: “No, I am not.” With this generation quickly becoming one of the largest and most active parts of the workforce, there have been several articles written about millennials: who we are, what we like, what we don’t like, how to hire us, how to retain us, why not to hire us, why we’re great, why we’re the worst, etc. The list goes on and on. As someone who was born in the “right years” to fit in the millennial category, I beg to not be defined by it, and I think many of my peers would appreciate the same.
noun: **stereotype**; plural noun: **stereotypes**
1. a widely held, but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.
Now, this may seem a bit dramatic, but hear me out. The idea of stereotyping was taught to me at a young age as a negative thing. It is a way for people to easily label others to ease the personal anxiety of having to spend the time to get to know someone new, and God forbid potentially not understanding them! But fear not, I have come up with a few simple steps to successfully interact with, benefit from and win-over those millennials around you:
Stop stereotyping us, and believing all the myths. Are some 18-32 year olds lazy and entitled? Sure! But show me a family that doesn’t have that uncle who’s 50 and has yet to define his life. Just because one person fits the mold doesn’t mean we all do.
Listen to what we have to say as individuals, not as a group. In a recent article from The Economist, they clearly point out the fallacy in generalization, stating, “Companies need to recognize that individual differences are always bigger than generational differences.”
Do something. Now, I am going to break my own rule and generalize: there is nothing more frustrating to millennials, or any generation in the work place, than companies that don’t do anything for them. When you stop and listen to those working directly with you or for you, you should be able to get a good sense of what’s important to them.
If you stereotype millennials or any other generation, you will end up with a whole lot of opinions, and not a lot of facts. I dare you to stop assuming you know what defines a millennial and take one to lunch! Listen to what they care about and I bet you’ll be surprised by the uniqueness of each and every one of us.
What stereotypes do your millennial and other co-workers break for their generations? Let us know what you learn about – and from – them on Twitter via @IntrinzicSays.