Millennials at work meeting with their phones

Four Mistakes Millennials Make at Work You Must Avoid

Millennial new hires are super eager to get started and do a great job at their new job.

But sometimes when millennials start a new position, they bring with them some poor workplace habits and behaviours that will immediately stand out in a bad way and get noticed by management and coworkers.

Here are four mistakes that young new hires can make without realizing how poorly it reflects on them and their professionalism.

Adopting more casual office norms too fast

New hires can’t take some of the little liberties and casual office norms that seasoned employees enjoy. Norms like arriving a few minutes late.

If you immediately adopt the looser behaviours of your new coworkers, your professionalism will immediately be called into question, and for good reason.

For example, you may see that your boss leaves early some days or takes a long lunch. Despite this being acceptable, it is not tolerated for someone just starting on the job. Eventually flexibility will be earned when you demonstrate your abilities and worth.

I once had an employee at work who would track the whereabouts of her boss and arrive according to her boss’s schedule. She would even take additional breaks five minutes after the boss left for a meeting.

Little did she realize the rest of the office was watching her and reporting this back to the boss. It was quite funny to witness her run around a few paces behind her superior, and the whole floor was talking about it. You don’t want to be the subject of gossip about the new hire who never does their work. Word gets around fast.

Being on your phone ALL day

Everyone has a smartphone now and it’s acceptable to use it during work, but the timing and frequency of your phone checks are critical. Run afoul of the unspoken-but-ironclad rule around this and people will notice.

Be aware of your personal screen time at work. This means don’t even glance at your phone during meetings, and if you are tempted put the device out of reach completely, like in your desk drawer or bag.

Constant phone hits send a message to your boss about your work ethic. I hear about managers approaching their employees and telling them they are always on their phone, questioning how how they can actually get work done. Be smart about it.

Similarly, if you need to minimize your computer screen immediately when approached you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. Leave the social media updates for lunch and breaks.

Stretching what qualifies as a sick day

Millennials are the inventors of self care, but some are mixing this concept up with what exactly counts as a valid reason to take a sick day.

I’ve heard people taking a mental break for multiple reasons — even getting a new pet — not to show up at work or insist they need to work from home for reasons that really should be handled outside of work.

Similarly, telling everyone they took a sick day due to an argument with their partner is not appropriate. And if you do take a sick day, you should be home — so don’t show up on social media attending a food market or restaurant patio.

Not staying in your lane

Be careful not to comment on strategic topics and critical decisions you are not recently involved in or a stakeholder to.

This can often happen with new hires in certain contexts like meetings with other employees not on your team. While you may think you have a good insight (and indeed you may), the fact is you are too junior to be sharing it at a meeting with others so early on.

Take a moment to reflect on it, make sure you understand the broader context and then privately share the idea or insight with your boss. They may be pleased to hear about it and encourage you to speak out more in larger settings or they may dismiss you completely

The key thing is that it’s better to be shut down at your boss’ desk instead of at a large meeting where everyone will talk about “can you believe the new hire commented on that, they doesn’t know anything about it! Where is the respect.”

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