Now that career-minded Millennials make up 50 percent of our workplace, it’s safe to assume (like every other generation to enter the work force) they’ll want to earn promotions as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we’re hearing across the board that a lot of Millennial workers aren’t promotion material, citing a lack of drive and professionalism. However, the real problem lies in a lack of Millennial understanding of the power of perception. In my experience, simple insights are all Millennials need to turn things around.
“People hear what they see.” –Doris Day
Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes Millennials make and how they get misperceived.
1. Being a clock-puncher. Millennials value their free time. As a result, some tend to be meticulous about only working the hours they’re paid for–to the second, i.e., they walk in at 8:29 a.m. and leave at 5:59 p.m. on the dot (because they took exactly 30 minutes for lunch). When you’re so focused on leaving the office not a minute later than you need to stay, you send the message you couldn’t care less about the work you’re doing. In the mind of management, it’s just a job to you. Perhaps that’s the case, but managers have no desire to promote people who aren’t focused on and interested in the work they do.
Advice to Millennials: Once or twice a week, stay 15 minutes past your normal work hour and get an extra task done. As the rest of your peers exit en masse, you can score a chance to say good night and make small talk with your boss about what you’re working on and why you chose to stay late to finish it. Those moments can help you build a better personal connection with your boss and show you aren’t obsessed with the clock–two things the boss will consider when a promotion comes available.