Our COO, Yvonne Hanak, pitched me a blog idea a couple weeks ago. She wanted to write a column about her recent experiences working with millennials.
GASP! My stomach turned.
I feared the all-to-familiar angle: Another bashing from an aggreived person not from my generation.
Not so fast. Her goal was not what I expected. Her post turned out insightful, thoughtfully crafted and, best of all, authentic.
I'm a millenial, born in 1987, the year after the company I work for was founded. My understanding of our industry is not always in sync with Yvonne's, but there are some fundamental lessons that have stood the test of time.
And I suggest fellow millennials take these to heart.
A Ferocious Work Ethic – I was lucky enough to have parents who exemplified a strong work ethic. I found this theme consistent among their friends and witness it, myself, with Gen-X and Baby Boomer coworkers. Here at KEF Media, our mantra is exceptional not adequate. I apply this to everything I work on because I know the job market is highly competitive and there are lots of very talented people doing what I do.
The Ability to See the Big Picture – I'm like a lot of millenials, extremely impatient. We spend lavishly. We are shortsighted. We, more often than not, need instant gratification. It’s therefore challenging to reflect. Throughout my time in media and public relations, I’ve brought ideas to the table that Band-Aid a problem. Solutions were temporary. Gen-X and Baby Boomer mentors have taught me to tap the brakes, take a step back and reexamine before proceeding. It’s saved me from some big-time mistakes!
Skepticism Breeds Success – Along the same lines as seeing the big picture, Xers and Baby Boomers have a healthy skepticism about everything. They question your approach. And it’s difficult not to take the criticism personally. I’ve learned the hard way. Condemnation never originates from disdain of your ideas as much as it is their way to suggest a better, more comprehensive solutions. It’s a tactic that forces you to think harder. Oh, No! Professors made a big deal about critical thinking in college. They prepare you for the realities of every day workplace scenarios. We all are in positions and contain the ability to think critically, but millennials will choose a lazy course because we rationalize it as "efficient." I’ve learned its best to skip shortcuts and find an ulterior path.
Millenials need to accept the values and appreciate the foundation set by Xers and Baby Boomers. Some simple, yet chief values originated from generations prior. If all generations learn to embrace each other, any workplace can achieve ultimate prosperity.