In my last post we looked why the millennial generation is unique and why businesses should be taking these skills seriously to guarantee their competitive advantage. In this post we’ll look at what Millennials can do at work to release these superpowers and push their career forward.
As digital natives, the Millennials in the workplace have innate skills which make them passionate, communicative, sociable, ambitious, committed, advocate for change, connected, technology-first and happy to stand up and be counted. But as a millennial yourself – how do you use these skills to your advantage?
1. Learn how to use technology to your advantage.
Become the experienced voice in the room on how to use technology to do something quicker, make working life easier, save money or reduce errors. Get data and evidence to back up your opinion. You’ll be the centre of attention!
2. Learn how to say ‘no’
This may seem counter-intuitive but as an ambitious, young and eager member of the team your colleagues will likely make a bee-line for you when new work comes up. This will mean you will often find yourself facing an impossible ‘to do’ list. It’s much easier to learn how to say ‘no’ in a positive way from the start, than to let someone down or have to go back to a colleague and admit you can’t do a piece of work… or worse, find yourself working evenings and weekends to get that list down. Learning how to manage your workload will be a god-send throughout your career!
3. Pick your battles
It is inevitable that from time to time you’ll need to make your case, be heard and stand strong against the flow of popular opinion. Either this will force change or you’ll be effectively ignored. It’s important in the latter case to chose carefully the times when you choose to maintain your position and push back and when you decide to concede and move on. Consider who is involved, the wider impact of the decision, the length of time the decision will hold for and how it impacts you personally.
4. Understand your own style and preferences
Be as aware as possible of your own working preferences, your leadership and team-working styles and how you work with other personality types. This will help you spot more easily the people who you’ll work well with and those you are most likely to clash with – as well as how to manage these interactions.
5. Don’t get ‘lost’ in the corporate stereotypes, your differences ARE your assets
Particularly in the larger corporate organisations, there will likely be a ‘type’ of person (often more senior) who seems to succeed and be where you want to be. Try not to lose yourself in the pursuit of ‘success’. The further away you get from your natural character and your principles, the unhappier you’ll end up. There’s nothing wrong with personal development and growth, but don’t become a stereotype just to climb the ladder – it’s lonely at the top if you feel you don’t really belong. Your business will hopefully recognise your strengths and character for what they can add to the organisation and allow you to flourish in your own way.
6. Take inspiration and best practise from anywhere!
Look around you. Inspiration is everywhere. Look at companies in your sector and outside of it. Bring new, fresh ideas to the table whenever you can – they are usually always welcome and you never know when something may end up being gold!
7. Know your competition
You won’t have as much experience in the sector as many of your colleagues, so find your 4 closest competitors and learn as much as you can about them and their products. Follow them on social and keep up to date with their announcements. It will always give you something to talk to colleagues about and can also spark some innovative thinking!
8. Find a mentor and/or coach
They are different! A mentor is usually someone more senior, can be inside or outside the business, who has your best interests at heart and who can guide you in career decisions. A coach will often work on something more specific with you, a skill or process, to help you refine, learn and improve. It can take some time to find someone who you gel with, but these relationships can be worth their weight in gold.
9. Spend some time social-working and networking
In a slight change to the standard expression, I believe it’s actually who you know AND what you know which will get you ahead. Your network and your ability to connect with people will be critical in progressing your career. Take the opportunities to go to social work events and team building activities. Whenever you can you should try to volunteer for working groups or ‘councils’ or temporary project teams to help expand your reach. Let people know about your skills and passions, you never know where conversations may go!
10. Understand the importance of communication
Your generation is built on (digital) communication. You are used to sharing, debating and collaborating. Use this to your advantage. Just about every large organisation I’ve ever had contact with has trouble with internal communication. If you can crack it – even just for your projects/ work area – you’ll be a hero! Find out who wants the information, how often and in what format … and then deliver it, consistently.
I can help with more details and further advice on any of these areas, drawing from my 15 years experience in the corporate world, so just contact me if you’d like to know more. I also help businesses work smarter with their millennial workforce, so if you’re in that camp just get in touch.
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Learn more about Kelly and Alison who founded Find Your Wings and their own stories.