September 20, 2013

Who Wins The Workplace? Millennials Vs. Old People

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What is the issue?
Gonna upload this one to LinkedIn, Shutterstock
Gonna upload this one to LinkedIn, Shutterstock

Showing up on time

Old People. 8:00 means 8:00. Or 7:50 and wasting 10 minutes just to show people you are there on time. Follow the letter of the law.

Millennials. No RSVPs ever. Fluid timing. If you are scheduled for 8, showing up at 8:15 is perfectly acceptable. Arbitrary rules are less important than doing great work. The spirit, not the letter, of the law.

Wardrobe

Old People. Wear really unstylish things like nude pantyhose and crew neck blouses because you are supposed to look “conservative” because (especially for women) you can’t possibly be attractive and also intelligent. If people view you as a sex object at work, it is the responsibility of the perceived, not the perceiver to right this.

Millennials. You can wear leggings to work, as long as you look stylish and attractive. People like to work with people who look nice and like they aren’t behind the times.

Communication

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Old People. Old people looooove to talk on the phone and have meetings where everyone gives “status updates.”

If you’d like to go back and reference what was talked about you need to rely on someone writing up the meeting afterwards or else you’re basically screwed because information said out loud from one person to another is not archivable, and therefore, kind of a waste.

Make decision based on face-to-face meetings and ethereal “gut” feelings.

Millennials. Though you are sitting next to your coworker, you will communicate via chat. IRL communication requires taking off your headphones off and/or breaking eye-contact with your BFF/macbook. All conversations are searchable when you can’t remember what someone’s decision ended up being.

Learning

Let Me Google That For You
Let Me Google That For You

Old People. I received career advice from the lady president of a hospital five years ago. She said the secret to her career was that she never learned how to type, so she was never mistaken for a secretary and was never made to do menial work–because she simply lacked this ability.

Millennials. I didn’t take this advice because I already knew how to do a ton of technical minutiae simply by virtue of making LiveJournals and wanting them to look cool and wanting to know how to hook my computer/phone up to everything for purely leisure reasons.

If a boomer doesn’t know how to do something they will ask someone and spend a lot of time talking about it. If a millennial doesn’t know how to do something they will Google it. Millennials are intellectually curious and too impatient to wait for someone else to teach them, while previously the premium has been placed on learning from culturally assigned “experts.”

Dealing with difficult clients

Old People. The customer is always right. The most important relationship is with clients. If an employee makes a mistake, throw them under the bus to the client, they’ll commiserate about what idiots people can be.

Millennials. Maintaining positive relationships with the people close to you is more important than people who come and go, to a larger extent than previous generations (though not always, obviously). Critical thinking is applied to client demands, rather than assuming they are omniscient.

Work Ethic

Shutterstock
Shutterstock

Old People. Work hard, don’t waste time, go home.

Millennials. Work hard at work, but treat it like it is a fluid part of your life, rather than a 8-hour chunk of time.

Marketing

Old People. Be 100% professional at all times. Call to action is the ultimate purpose of any marketing appeal.

Millennials. Market to people like they are your friends. Entertain them. Brand buy-in is the ultimate purpose of any marketing appeal.

Office space

Old People. An office is a status symbol.

Millennials. A flexible schedule is a status symbol. Also, who needs an office when you have headphones?

Accountability

Old People. Entitled. “I’ve done this, I’ve worked here a long time, you owe me because of my experience. If the job is doing A + B I’m going to do exactly that and nothing more/less.”

Millennials. Entitled. “I exist, so be nice to me or I will go somewhere else. If the job is doing A + B, I’m going to think about the process and see if this is the best way to do it. Try to find ways to work less, while accomplishing the same thing.”

Work process

Old People. Like your high school math teach, “showing your work” is important. This means being in the office everyday, on time, going to meetings, etc. Even if you do not require these things to accomplish your employer’s goals, you need to do the dog and pony show.

Millennials. Do what makes sense, not what has been done before simply because it has been done before.

Motivation

Old People. Work is just what you do. You need a paycheck, you need to prove your value to society. You work because that is the way it has always been.

Millennials. Work is a form of self expression. Your job title tells people who you are and what you care about, at least in some sense. Even in the for-profit world, there needs to be a little “meta” in the work, a story that’s bigger than a work/profit exchange between employee and employer. TC mark

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