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Sep 08, 2016

Passport to Business Success - Millennials: Steering Clear of Stereotypes

Featuring Mary Paladino

Passport to Business Success
Millenials: Steering Clear of Stereotypes

Nobody wants to be the target of negative stereotypes, especially generational stereotypes often associated with poor performance in the workplace. Unfortunately, it appears that such stereotypes are unavoidable since the demographics of today’s workforce are extremely diverse. Generational diversity plays a major role in the culture of most workplace environments since multiple generations often find themselves working side-by-side. Millennials (born 1980 - 2000) are the most recent generation to enter the workforce, and there's no denying that they have developed a reputation, and it's not glowing. 
Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964) and Generation X (Gen X’ers) (1965 – 1979) have both endured their share of negative workplace stereotypes. However, Millennials appear to own the most negative of stereotypes the workplace has seen in recent history. According to Forbes Magazine, 68 percent of organizations find it difficult to manage Millennials. Management has frequently described their experiences with Millennials as unfavorable, expressing sentiments such as the following:
  • Lazy/weak work ethic;
  • Not team players, unwilling to pay dues;
  • Overly casual attitude toward the work environment; and
  • Overly reliant on technology/lack of communication skills.
Clearly there are millions of Millennials in the workforce who are extremely successful and who do not fit this mold. Nonetheless, Millennials are often defined by these negative traits. Whatever the reason, it is apparent that Millennials have faced real and unprecedented challenges versus previous generations, including entering a workforce in the midst of extreme unemployment and a historically slow economy, while saddled with the highest levels of student loan debt in history. Despite the reasons, Millennials need to be aware and take action to ensure that their hard work and contributions are recognized.  
If you’re a Millennial who can say "No, these characteristics do not describe me" - congratulations.  There is no substitute for hard work, positive attitude and determination in paving the road to success. Displaying these traits amidst Millennial colleagues will likely lead to your star rising even faster. On the other hand, if you can identify with some of these examples, you are in a perfect position to help shatter the Millennial stereotype and put your career on a more lucrative trajectory by making some simple changes.
STEREOTYPE: Lazy/weak work ethic
Solution: Simple; do your time. Don’t leave for the day before your boss, supervisors, or others without checking to see what you can do to further assist. (Bonus: Getting in 10 minutes before your boss will raise an eyebrow!). Make sure you understand expectations so you can plan your time accordingly. Don’t leave assignments incomplete without communicating and establishing a plan to meet expectations. Sarah Jones-Maturo, President of RM Friedland (and a highly successful Millennial) points out: “One of the big stigmas associated with the Millennial workforce is that we are lazy or somehow unmotivated. Having spent 11 years as a commissioned salesperson where your income is directly related to how hard and smart you work, I can say that is not true. I think the key is finding something that you love to do. If you love your job, it is easy to stay motivated.” 
STEREOTYPE: Not a team player/Unwilling to pay dues
Solution: Be a team player! If you are working on a team-oriented project, pitch in and do what it takes to get the job completed, even if it means making copies or ordering the pizza. In key crunch times, NOBODY is above any task if it advances the project for the company/client/team.
STEREOTYPEOverly casual attitude toward the work environment
Solution:  Many Millennials do not see the value in dress codes, defined work hours, and general bureaucracy. Generations may have different philosophies, but if your employer has policies, you have a responsibility to follow them. In addition, whether it is fair or not, people are judged by their appearances, punctuality, and professionalism.
  • Although cliché, dress professionally (i.e., don’t wear beach, night club, work-out or other inappropriate office attire). Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have.
  • Being late for appointments or work is perceived by many (including Millennials) as a lack of interest and a sign of disrespect. Make sure to allow enough time so that you are punctual.
  • Lastly, while most Millennials have grown up with headphones attached to their ears, many consider this unprofessional. For example, a client paying hourly rates may perceive use of headphones on the job as a distraction or lack of focus, ultimately costing them more while sacrificing quality!
  • In short, make sure you understand the culture of your company and the expectations of your clients, superiors, and colleagues when determining appropriate workplace demeanor.   
STEREOTYPE: Overly reliant on technology/lack of communication skills
Solution: When the opportunity presents itself, pick up the phone rather than send e-mails.  Developing relationships with clients and colleagues will happen faster and last longer verbally, or face to face, versus e-mail.  Next, make sure to review all your social media account privacy settings, as well as review for anything of a personal nature that you do not want to share with colleagues/clients.  
There is no question that Millennials have made a statement, and that they will be dominating the workforce in the near future. Multiple companies recognize this and have made substantive changes to accommodate the values embraced by Millennials. By making a few simple changes, Millennials can not only advance their own reputations and careers, but they can narrow or eliminate their negative stereotype by providing predecessor generations with an accurate perspective of the significant value they add to the workplace.  
Women Driving the Next Generation! Join us for our fourth annual “Driving Your Business: Women at the Wheel” event on September 21, 2016, at the Westchester Country Club.  Mary Paladino and Chelsea Rosen of Citrin Cooperman will serve as the co-moderators for a panel that includes three extraordinary millennial women CEOs and executives sharing their management secrets of success.  The panel includes Laura Belkner, Esq., Attorney at the Law Offices of Kevin H. Cohen; Sarah Jones-Maturo, President of RM Friedland; and Nell Debevoise, Founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital.  For more information, contact Laura Di Diego at
About The Authors: Mary Paladino, CPA, Partner and Chelsea Rosen, Manager are based in Citrin Cooperman’s White Plains office. They can be reached at 914.949.2990 or at and Citrin Cooperman is a full-service accounting and consulting firm with 10 locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Visit us at