An Open Letter to Millennials in The Workplace

Rachel Romer

Search ‘Millennials’ and the first Google suggestions will likely read ‘Millennials are Idiots.’ We’ve been deemed the lazy, narcissistic, and entitled generation, and while that may be true for some of you, many of us are success seeking, driven and career-focused professionals. However, the negative connotation of being young in the workplace is working against us.

With Millennials being a hot topic, there are endless suggestions for employers to shift their thinking in order to recruit and retain millennial employees. As a growing part of the workforce, this is no surprise. But as the most hated generation, what can we do to help get what we are so desperately seeking from management and leadership teams?

There is power in numbers and being 88 million strong, it’s no secret we are outspoken about expectations of our leaders. Here’s how we can be a part of reinventing the traditional workplace.

 

1.     Coaches + Advocates

Reinventing the traditional workplace may just start with reframing management roles. We don’t want bosses or managers, we want coaches and advocates. Growing up in a world with helicopter parents, we have a desire for those we admire to have a vested interest in our ideas, achievements, and futures.

Don’t be afraid to tell your coaches about where you see your future and what plans you have for your career. Ask questions about how they got where they are, what you can do to get where you want to be, and where they see their own future. Use your leaders and coaches as resources. They can teach more than you could ever imagine.

 

2.     Career Development

We are an ambitious bunch and want to see our careers continue to grow. We want responsibility and the opportunity to continuously develop our strengths rather than overcome our weaknesses.

Know your strengths and communicate them to leadership. When new projects arise, mention how your strengths and skill set can be an asset to the success of that project.

 

3.     Continuous Conversations Around Feedback

Millennials are determined to right their wrongs and develop their skills and strengths. This is difficult to do with the conventional annual review. We seek a continuous conversation surrounding feedback so we can grow and develop throughout the year.

Let’s be honest: Participation trophies have made us soft. It’s important to know your worth and stand strong when constructive criticism is thrown your way. Don’t sulk in self-doubt, rather focus your attention on developing your strengths. Ask for ‘check-ins’ rather than full blown reviews. This will give leadership the ability to drop in with quick recommendations and enhance clarity.

 

4.     Nurturing Support

Millennials are causing a shift in the relationship between leadership and employees. We crave leaders that have a genuine concern for our personal life, hobbies, and interests. We want individuals who take the time to get to know their employees personally and can delegate accordingly. Personal attention and understanding is key.

Share your story. If you enjoy reading and have recently read a great book, share it with your peers as well as leadership. If you like hiking, share your favorite trails. Be nurturing and supportive to your peers to set the example. Say thank you and be polite at all times, the little things can go a long way. Check in with everyone on your team and offer your help, demonstrate an open mind and willingness to change, and suggest small parties and celebrations.

 

5.     Transparency + Realness

In the past, employees had a ‘work’ self and a ‘real’ self. Millennials are closing this gap and keeping it real at work, and they want you to do the same. Growing up in the age of instant messaging and social media, we have a profound ability to spot phony authenticity. We desire open communication and clarity of expectations in hopes that we can exceed those expectations to advance our careers. Technology has given us access to see the leadership cultures of other organizations. This gives us instant visibility to seek new opportunities if we aren’t loving our current leadership.

As millennials, we can’t forget that communication is a two-way street. We can’t demand transparency from our leaders and not offer that same openness. Be an advocate for open communication in your workplace. Most importantly, be yourself and encourage other to do the same.