(Mis) perceptions of Generation Y in the Workplace (Part 2)

Generation Y has been stereotyped as entitled, coddled, demanding, and dependent. But do these descriptions really fit? The Public Speaker shows 9 ways how communication can change perceptions and close the gap between Baby Boomers and Gen Y.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #190

(Mis) perceptions of Generation Y in the Workplace (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this mini series, I talked about the traditional perceptions of Generation Y as coddled, spoiled, demanding, and even lazy.  Unfortunately for many in Gen Y, it’s an uphill battle to overcome these stereotypes and earn the respect they deserve at work..

Generation Y, you are a talented bunch. You know more about technology than any generation before you. You’re well-rounded, confident, and know what you want out of life. You have the ability to change the perceptions or misconceptions about your generation in the workplace. Here are 9 tips for making a strong early impression and proving your value:

Tip #1: First Impressions Are Extremely Important

From your very first day, make a great impression. Research shows it takes anywhere from three to thirty seconds to make a first impression. That’s not long! Your posture, facial expression, handshake, and clothing are all evaluated in that short time.  Be charming and humble by practicing and delivering thoughtful self-introductions. Use proper posture whether sitting or standing, smile naturally, shake hands firmly, and show that you’re listening and paying attention to details.

Tip #2: Build Rapport by Showing Genuine Interest in Others

Ask your co-workers about their experience, hobbies, family, and areas of common interest. I’m not saying you need to socialize all day long at work and you don’t have to be friends outside the office.  But the best way to have someone respect and like you is to respect and genuinely like them first. A commonly overlooked and highly effective way to do that is to work to discover things you really do like and respect about each other – and that requires some proactive socialization.  I discuss how to do this in much more detail in my new book, Smart Talk

Tip #3: Prove Your Independence

Generation Y is perceived as being tied to their parents and dependent on them, even in adulthood. Your parents may want to be involved in your career. Set boundaries with them.  Fill them in on what you’re doing, but don’t bring them to orientation. Don’t let them call your manager for any reason. Tell them you’ll answer their texts after work. It may be fine to bring your family in one day for lunch, but wait until you’ve been there awhile and have had a chance to make an impression on your own.

Tip #4: Interact with Boss, Colleagues, and Customers Face-to-Face

This is especially important when beginning a new job or when handling any sort of disagreement. Sometimes it seems like in-person conversations are a lost art, but they’re an important part of building respect and making sure what you’re saying isn’t misinterpreted. There’s a time and a place for email, texting, and other electronic communication. But if what you need to say is important, say it in person if possible. If you work from home and can’t meet in person, videoconferencing can be the next best thing.

Tip #5: Prove Your Worth by Delivering Results Fast

This can be intimidating when you’re brand new, but delivering good results will get you noticed. Study your environment, learn the technical aspects of your job, find projects, and ask to get involved. Let your manager know you’re eager to get started. It takes hard work to make yourself unique and indispensable. Results count more than experience. Early positive results will go a long way to paving the road to success. 

One word of caution: If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t just guess or make bold assumptions. Check in regularly to make sure you’re on the right path. Your goal is to produce results that make your company successful; not to make extra work for your team because of rookie mistakes. It is important to ask for help when needed and to meet regularly with your manager and you may even want to find a mentor (see next Tip #6).


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.