Face-off: How New Leaders Handle Millennial Bashing at Work

Face off


Editor’s Note: Face-off is a YouTern weekly series that takes a look at the same career question from two generational perspectives… and presents two different answers. Please let us know if this new take on career advice is helpful – and which perspective makes the most sense to you!


A young Millennial enjoys a fairly good work culture, but part of that work culture is frequent barbs that include Millennial stereotypes. When the Millennial is promoted, and finds herself now managing some of the individuals who take part in the Millennial bashing, it creates a workplace relationship (and management) issue. What should she do? How should she handle it?


Lotus Yon, Millennial

lotusAs a new leader, it’s important to avoid becoming defensive and overly sensitive, which only makes you less credible (and confident) as a leader. zut your feelings aside and find ways to relate to each of your employees. Discover their interests and motivations and adjust your leadership style towards each of those.

When I was promoted, there was talk that since I was a millennial, I would turn everything into technology and everyone would quit working for me because of it. I didn’t make any drastic changes. I purposely introduced new technology slowly, allowing my team to learn and understand it in comprehendible pieces. By doing this, I gained buy-in that the technology was a great benefit.

There was also the joke-turned-rumor that I was going to want three-day work weeks and not be available for my employees. Basically, this was a thinly veiled message, born from stereotype, that Millennials are lazy. I committed to being the first one at work every day and the last one to leave. I was already getting things done faster than most people; working these extra hours just allowed me to do even more – new projects as well as more things to help my team. Over time, I gained a lot of respect for this approach.

You know the cliche: “Actions speak louder than words”? It’s true, and as a young leader, you must live by this.

And remember: regardless of how ridiculous others’ feelings towards you may be, respect has to be earned.

Lotus Yon is an extremely proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s a dedicated Human Resources and Organizational Development Professional, particularly interested and experienced in Training & Education, Instructional Design, Leadership Development, Internal Communications, Employee Engagement.


Mark Babbitt, Boomer:

Mark Babbitt AuthorAs with most workplace situations that come from a place of emotion, I suggest any new leader give themselves the gift of a deep breath.

Take a moment, and reflect. Perhaps even appreciate the feedback, or consider the source. True: this isn’t always easy; with experience, though, it gets easier to  step away from the situation long enough to gather your thoughts and get your focus back on the mission, instead of agonizing over a personality.

As much as we all like to fantasize about the perfect revenge statement (you know, the kind where the hero has a perfectly stated and timed comeback written by Aaron Sorkin himself). In reality, the satisfaction of getting revenge on your older reports will only be fleeting. And may cost you points as a leader.

Today, it is your job to build a team atmosphere and get everyone working towards the same goals. Often that means dealing with individual personality types on a case by case basis — and usually in private. As a leader, you must be willing to have the tough conversations.

It is now your job to inspire changes in behavior — not to serve as culture compliance officer.

The key to success here: Owning the relationship. Deliberately remove the emotion, eliminate the distractions and work toward building the best possible team.

CEO and Founder of YouTern, Mark Babbitt is a serial mentor who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable and Forbes regarding job search, career development and internships. A keynote speaker and prolific blogger, Mark’s contributions include Harvard Business Review, Inc. and Huffington Post. 



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