I Was Called a Millennial at Work…

Written by Melissa Anzman Last week, I hit my ceiling for drama tolerance at a company I’ve been working with. Over the past several months, I tried troubleshooting, I asked for guidance, I talked to all of the people I could to get some traction, I elevated my concerns, I did… everything to improve the situation. And absolutely nothing changed.

This is pretty typical at a large organization, we’ve all experienced it. But what I finally realized, was this was simply the company’s culture. I talked with a few people who were having issues in other areas, and they agreed – they felt like they were screaming from the roof tops and no one cared except for them.

And that’s when my limit was reached. I knew that it was not going to be a long-term “culture” fit for me – it wasn’t worth the consulting dollars, the fun projects, the connections, etc. I couldn’t get over a culture that…

… doesn’t say thank you to their hard-working employees

… doesn’t take action when there are serious issues

… doesn’t prioritize people over (insert many things here: path of least resistance, how it’s always been done, etc.)

So I let them know that it was time for me to move on. And that’s when things got super weird.

The head person wasn’t made aware of my decision (she is a key stakeholder) for a week after the discussion. I went an entire week with radio silence, reinforcing my impression that as a worker bee, I wasn’t valued and my concerns continued to multiply. I had had an entire week of stewing, reinforcing my outlook on the situation, basically being done.

But what shocked me even more, was what happened when she found out. I got a phone call – which was very nice, and very kind things were said, but there was one comment that stuck out for me. The response to me outlining in a very professional manner, what the issues were:

“I want to share your experience with the other leaders. We all need to do a better job at learning how to manage Millennials.”

Um, WHAT?!

There are so many things wrong with that statement I don’t even know where to start. How about the fact that I’m barely considered a Millennial? Or perhaps that instead of acknowledging the culture or issues, creating a blanket statement to sweep the issues under? Or what about all of the hard work, time and effort, I’ve put into my career to get me to the place I was in? Why am I being “stereotyped” into an entire generation at work?!

Why is this being labeled as a millennial problem?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been more offended at work through a conversation. And trust me, I’ve had some zingers thrown my way in the past. It was insulting because we are all so much more than our generation indicators – and I can’t imagine this same scenario being said about a Baby Boomer.

Part of what’s so frustrating with this experience, and likely similar experiences that you are having in the workplace every day, is that managers really don’t know how to “manage” the new workforce. They don’t get it and by extension, they don't get us. So everything becomes a generational problem instead of a culture problem; or a work distribution problem; a communication issue; or simply, a bad fit.

This is where the good stuff, but hard work, happens. It’s up to us, whether we identify as Millennials or not, to start educating the people we work with and reinforce that we are more than a generalization. “We” may have some odd quirks that Gen X’ers or Baby Boomers didn’t have, but trust me – “they” had their own quirks too when they entered the workforce.

Instead of accepting the stereotype or brushing off situations as a Millennial issue, let’s use each of those opportunities as a learning moment for the other person, and reinforce our humanity in the process.

Have you been called out as a Millennial at work? Tell us more in the comments below!

melissa anzman

About Melissa

Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job  where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her @MelissaAnzman.