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If You Don’t Like the Stereotype … Change it!

So many theories on Millennials in the work place, so many funny cartoons.  

Stereotypes or truths?

I’d argue … Both.

My belief is stereotypes are generalizations based on some element of truth (like it or not). The stereotype might play out in the end to be painful/harsh/ugly/unfair, but somewhere in the annals of time it was true of someone, somewhere generally speaking. Then, generally, it was true of multiple people, several places or many people, widespread.

Keyword above and saving grace – general.  That’s good news!  Because they’re general it means stereotypes are not, ‘one size fits all’.  

I also believe if you don’t like a stereotype about yourself/your group then work to change the perception. Or phrased another way, in Mad Men fashion: “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” – Don Draper

Don Draper quotation

Ran across this quick article on the Millennial generation in the workplace and why they’re “getting fired”.   This writer states a lot of truths (stereotypes?) related to young professionals’ issues and offers some tips on how to avoid the fate of workplace misery –or worse– getting fired.

Good article, but it got me thinking …how has it gone this far, this quickly? This generation is so young in the workforce – yikes. How can I help those who don’t want to fit in this “box” break out of the stereotype’s pop culture destiny?           

Yes, I’ve run into this general malaise, but it’s not every Millennial I encounter.  But then again, as with any good stereotype, you begin to believe what you hear consistently and most often, and currently those labels especially include, “entitled and narcissistic” over and over. Every generation claims stereotypes (even my “forgotten” GenX brothers and sisters), but never before do we have so much access to so many pundits summing up an entire generation before they even make their mark.

My conclusion: Change the conversation.   

Everyone – stop pontificating.  Engage in real, straight-forward conversations.  Cut through the blogger experts, Reddit rants, sketchy statistics and plain-old excuses and get to the point in your situation.

If you’re a Millennial and you’re reading that article thinking, “That’s not me…”, then I say, prove it.  Change the conversation.   Tell people who you are, whatyou stand for, why you believe as you do, and more importantly SHOW them.  Actions speak louder than words (pretty sure that advice precedes even the Boomers).

If you’re a Boomer or GenX (and especially if you’re the Boss) then engage in some crucial conversations.  Lead the way, even if it’s uncomfortable at first. Change the dialogue, allow for their input.  It’s up to us as leaders to outline clear expectations in the work place culture and design the experience for our employees so they can deliver the experience to our customers.  

I’m no expert or authority on this subject matter, but I sure am curious about how this continues to unfold and shape our country.   No matter which side of the age-bracket or argument you’re on, I’d love to hear your comments!

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