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During my first 30 days at a new job, I walked into the break room to get a cup of coffee. I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between two of my colleagues. Both complaining about the uselessness of the ‘young bucks’ who had recently joined the organization. According to them, millennials are unmotivated, entitled, lazy and unproductive. I was one of the new guys and as a millennial myself, I quickly felt offended. I worked hard, and as far as I could tell, was doing well in my first three weeks. However, while reflecting on the conversation, it dawned on me, they were right. In fact, the millennials around me were not the people I would recommend for a job.
For millennials, the definition of hard work must go beyond all-nighters on a project while pounding energy drinks and listening to Ed Sheeran. Baby Boomers and Gen X grew up in a different environment and although they spend hours in meeting rooms discussing ways to relate to us millennials, their expectations of a good employee still reflect their upbringing.
The exchange got me wondering, how can millennials step into a new job and prove themselves? It is time to stand outside of the crowd. Here are five steps to ace the first thirty days at your new job:
Arrive Early & Stay Late
Nothing will get you noticed in a negative light quicker than arriving late. Horatio Nelson said: “I owe all my success in life to having been always a quarter of an hour before my time.” Take that as your new motto in your first thirty days. This will show your supervisor that you are disciplined and that you can be counted on. Resist the urge to clock out right at 5. Instead try staying 15 minutes later than the majority of your colleagues, getting a job start on the next day. By the end of the week, you will have worked 75 more minutes than the guy in the next to you. When staying late, don't just be a warm seat, if you've completed your work, brainstorm new ideas to optimize the company or garner new business.
Turn Your Cellphone Off
Millennials spend an average of 17.8 hours per day using diverse media platforms. How do you expect to be productive spending that much time on social media? While people gripe about your millennial coworkers who can’t keep their hands and eyes off their mobile devices, you will stand out (in a good way) by keeping your phone away. Turn it off, keep it in your backpack or purse or for those addicted, leave it in your car. Try it for a couple days and see how more productive and efficient your work becomes.
Use The Break Room To Make ‘Friends’
If you’ve read Wired That Way by Florence Littauer and have met me, you would know that I am primarily a ‘peaceful phlegmatic’. This means that unless you approach me, I would not talk to you or make eye contact with you. However, I’ve realized that networking is an indispensable ingredient to success. Thus, I make it a point to get out of my comfort zone and continuously expand my sphere of influence. After you’ve kept your phone away all morning, your first instinct might be to check Facebook or Instagram during your lunch hour. However, I recommend taking 10 or 15 minutes to start up conversations and meet your coworkers. What are their titles? How long have they been with the organization? What are their daily roles? Then take initiative and lead your office team-building activities. Show your boss that you can create relations and lead others. Once the time comes to fill a leadership position, your name will be added to the list of candidates.
Ask For Permission To Make Suggestions
Businesses grow by reinventing themselves, by ameliorating and streamlining processes. Suggest more effective and efficient ways to achieve the same goals. In fact, most managers will welcome the feedback. However, proceed with caution, this is where most millennials get the “entitled” label. If you're anything like me, you're bursting with passion. Sometimes, that can come off as a “better than” attitude. Millennials are notorious for thinking their ideas are “revolutionary” and better than anything that has ever been done.
The key to do this effective: wait until you have a good understanding of the daily processes, ask your supervisor for permission to offer a suggestion in the future in case an opportunity arises. Most will feel respected and likely more open to your ideas. Prepare for your presentation, practice it multiple times and be confident. Then, deliver results. This will set you apart and give you an edge when the time comes to ask for a raise.
Own Your Mistakes
But don't be sloppy.
In your first month, you will mess up. Nobody is perfect. People make mistakes. Leaders takes ownership of their actions and their mistakes. Show your team and your boss that you are a leader by immediately voicing your faux-pas or by accepting constructive criticism. In fact, my recommendation is to learn as much as you can during the first 30 days and try new tasks that you’re not comfortable with. Most employers are more lenient with gaffes during the first 30 days. This period of time is to try, fail and adjust. Take full advantage of it.