8 Millennial Stereotypes that Need to Die in 2016

Born in 1989, right smack in the middle of the Millennial generation that spans from 1980 to 2000, I grew up in a time of participation trophies, helicopter parents and advancing technology. I’ve dealt with the ramifications of graduating from college during a recession and have faced managing student loan debt on minimum wage. Worst of all, I’ve wrestled with the firestorm of stereotypes that attempt to define my generation.

In 2015, the Millennial generation became the largest demographic in the workforce, so I thought this would be the perfect time to address the stereotypes that need to die in 2016.

1.We Are Entitled

To put this article together, I polled my Millennial Facebook friends. The stereotype that was overwhelmingly mentioned was entitlement, sentiments echoing around a similar topic:

“I am willing to put in my dues and work hard to get promotions, raises and perks on the job.”

I don’t know one person who would walk into an office and expect a promotion for merely showing up. Similarly, managers interviewed by The Atlantic say that we are bright, competent and hardworking individuals.

2. We Need Constant Handholding

Helicopter parents and a heavy emphasis on collaboration in school dominated our formative years. But that doesn’t mean we can’t function without constant reassurance. Let me set the record straight.

According to one study, Millennials are just as likely as their Gen X counterparts to seek out advice before making a decision. We want to make informed decisions and take the right actions in order to succeed.  

It’s true we crave collaboration, but that trait often turns out positively for workplaces. As Jacob Morgan illustrated in his Forbes article, collaborative environments are now a top priority for several business leaders.

3. We Need to be Constantly Praised and Can’t Handle Criticism

People misunderstand what Millennials really want. We like feedback – good and bad. Tell us what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong. Offer areas of improvement and advice. We want to make money for the company by succeeding, and don’t want to wait until the annual review to figure how we can work better. A business leader shouldn’t want to either.

A study by IBM found that Millennials want a boss that is ethical, fair and who values transparency. The study also found that Millennials are just as likely to seek out a pat on the back as their Gen X counterparts.

4. We Are Lazy

This might be the stereotype I resent the most. Millennials are not lazy. Instead, we question the status quo and strive to find easier ways to do tasks. That does not make us lazy, it makes us efficient. Technology has evolved so much throughout our lifetime that looking for an app to do something for us or to make our life easier is just part of life now.

Think about it this way… if Millennials were truly lazy, we wouldn’t be the ones inventing these apps.  

We are also the most highly educated generation to date. Millennials are seeking out higher education in order to achieve their dreams. Forbes called us high-minded and diligent because we chose to work long hours in demanding fields or in order to pursue advanced degrees.  

5. We Are Narcissistic

I’m going to say something a little shocking. What group of twentysomethings is not narcissistic? Due to social media’s ubiquitous nature, it might appear that my generation is just a bunch of selfie-obsessed twentysomethings who don’t care about the world. Snapchat was created for selfies, and all smartphones have added front-facing cameras that make taking selfies easier. All signs point to narcissism.

However, according to an NIH study, there has been no increase in narcissism in college students over the last few decades. Narcissism is age related. Any narcissism Millennials have will decrease as we grow older.  

6. We Are Addicted to Technology and Lack Basic Communication Skills

We grew up with technology. My family got our first computer when I was three years old, and by the time I was in high school I had my own computer and my own phone. Technology has continued to evolve since then and it is true that Millennials are some of the most avid users of digital technology.  

But the data does not support the notion that we have a digital addiction. We use digital technology to stay connected to friends and family, but we also know how to put down the phone and have a real conversation. Most Millennials prefer face-to-face communication for learning new skills at work.

7. We Are Job Hoppers

We don’t leave jobs, we leave managers.” This quote hits the nail on the head. We grew up in a time of turmoil. Terrorism, both homegrown and abroad, has been so pervasive in our culture during our formative years, Millennials grew up very aware of mortality.

I’ve had conversations with several friends that have centered on happiness at work. Almost everyone, myself included, left a company because of a manager or someone they worked with, not because of the company itself. The general attitude is “life is short, why should I put up with something that makes me unhappy when I’m sure there’s a job out there that WILL make me happy?”

A study by Price Waterhouse Cooper found Millennials are more loyal to companies that invest in them. Show us loyalty and we will return the favor.

8. We Are Know-it-Alls

Nothing could be further from the truth. We seek knowledge and career advancement through mentorship, online education opportunities and sometimes just searching for an answer on Google.

As the most educated generation, it’s evident that we crave knowledge. At the same time, we will be the first to admit when we don’t know something.

Baby boomers changed the workforce breaking down barriers between race and gender. Gen X changed it a little more advancing technology at a rapid pace. Now it’s the Millennials’ turn. Change is never easy but if we eliminate these stereotypes and keep an open mind, it will be possible.  

Before you believe these dreadful stereotypes, talk to someone who works with a few Millennials or talk to a Millennial.

Millennials, it is our responsibility to prove these stereotypes wrong. You can show that you’re a team player and ask for more responsibility, pull your weight around the office and always go above and beyond the job description.

When Gen Z joins the workforce and similar stereotypes get passed down to them, remember what it felt like to be labeled incorrectly. Maybe the generational stereotype can be a thing of the past, and not a rite of passage.

Lauren Kirkpatrick is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she earned a Masters degree in digital/social media. She serves as the Social Media Manager for Switch & Shift and chat commander for #SocialLeader chat. She is also a social media assistant and blogger for our sister site Youtern. When out of the office, Lauren loves watching her Dodgers, Trojans and San Diego State Aztecs. She is a master DIYer, TV aficionado and expert baker. Follow Lauren on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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