Everyone has at least one friend who is always late. No matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to get on schedule.
While punctuality is important, we can actually learn a great leadership lesson from our tardy friend. When that perpetually late friend does the opposite of what’s expected and actually arrives on time, others take notice.
With that said, millennials are often thought to be an entitled generation, lacking the work ethic or commitment of their seasoned industry peers. By defying those low expectations, we, too, can stand out and command recognition and respect from our peers.
Emerging as a young leader isn’t easy. Regardless of the work environment or circumstance, proving leadership capabilities to coworkers—especially those older than us—can be an uphill battle. Headlines like “Millennials Aren’t Listening to You Anymore” or “Ways to Make your Office More Friendly to Millennials” only make things worse, as they suggest our generation is unwilling to listen and hard to accommodate.
Rather than combatting the loaded millennial label, let’s embrace it. The blanket statements and assumptions regarding our generation are often misleading, but regardless, those perceptions aren’t going to change overnight. It’s our job arise as young leaders even in the wake of skepticism.
Bentley University conducted a study about millennials in the workplace as a part of their PreparedU Project, which aims to answer this question: “Is the next generation prepared for the workforce?” The study found many older, more established members of the workforce doubt the work ethic and dedication of the millennial generation.
Rob Asghar, a contributor to Forbes, analyzed this study, and wrote in his article, “There are plenty of good feelings among millennials and their elders…But 66% of all respondents say they’re [millennials are] difficult to manage. And a majority, 51%, say they lack respect for others.”
The study also found 89 percent of millennials agree they have a strong work ethic like that of the older working generation, but that older generation disagrees. Only 74 percent of non-millennial workers think new employees have the same work ethic as themselves.
Much like our late friend, we can surprise the veteran workforce through our actions. If they think we lack work ethic, are difficult to manage and lack respect for others, then our job is simple:
- Demonstrate enthusiasm
- Cooperate amiably with direction
- Work well with others
Action is the best means of persuasion, so our actions should be contrary to negative expectations. Doing our jobs diligently and to the full capacity is the best way to get noticed. It’s time to surprise people, so let’s not just arrive on time, let’s get there early.
Alexa Miller is a Senior Account Executive at Flackable, a national financial public relations and digital marketing agency, and a contributor at AdvisorAdvertising, a premier media channel offering the latest tips and trends on advertising, marketing and public relations for financial advisors. Follow Alexa on Twitter: @LexyMMiller.