If you are under thirty years old, you are part of a demographic cohort called Generation Y, but the most popular term used to describe you is millennial. As a management professor, I get asked all the time for advice on how to manage and motivate millennials at work. The explicit assumption is that there is a significant difference in the behavior of millenials at work that makes them more difficult to manage and motivate.
I don’t buy it. Clearly, you are stylistically unique. The way you dress, wear your hair, and even speak is different than people of other generations. But that is true for every generation when they are young, so there is nothing new under the sun here. The high quality, scientific research is NOT present to support the claim that you behave significantly different at work. The hype on millennials far outweighs the evidence. Nevertheless, the perception is strong, so you need to be prepared to deal with that perception at work.
Entitled is by far the most frequent label I hear placed on millenials. To be entitled means you want something for nothing. You want all the rewards and benefits of work but responsibility and hard work is conditional – it has to be on your terms or you won’t be engaged.
Do NOT let the term “entitled”become attached to your brand.
You can take this perception off the table by behaving in some very basic ways when at work. To avoid the entitled label, you need to show up, every time, on time and prepared to make a value-added contribution at work. That’s it. If you have been excessively absent or tardy and are not prepared to carry out your assigned job duties with excellence, your manager is going to be looking for a derogatory label to slap on you. Don’t let that happen!
If you don’t like your job for whatever reason, find a new one. When you find a new job, make sure to give your current employer two weeks’ written notice. And as you look for your new job and work through your two weeks’ notice period, you must continue to show up on time, every time, prepared to make a value-added contribution at work.
It’s that simple. If you will make the choice to behave that way at work, you will earn the respect of your manager and peers, and you will earn their recommendation as you progress through your career.
That is a great thing for your personal brand.
Bret Simmons is an Assistant Professor of Management in the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership, and personal branding to both undergraduate and MBA students. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Oklahoma State University. Bret practices personal branding at his website Positive Organizational Behavior where he blogs about leadership, followership, and personal branding. His purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” You can also find Bret on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.