5 easy work habits for Millenials to win the hearts of Gen X co-workers

It’s no secret Millenials work differently from Gen Xers who work differently from Boomers before them. Differences aside, everyone can agree that multiple perspectives strengthen teams, and as a result, your work product.

I liken high performance teams to trapeze artists. You really have to trust the person swinging toward you to catch you when you jump off the platform. You have to perfect working in sync to create a masterful performance worth being noticed. And, the more daring and awesome the endeavor, the more trust you need.

So how can we build the trust great teams need? By paying attention to the little details in the way we work. If you’re a Millenial working with a bunch of Gen X peers, there are some little things that matter that may seem too tiny to care about. So, here’s an easy list of the little things that will make a big difference and why your Gen X peers care:

  1.  Respond to emails even if you think reading them is good enough. Your Gen X co-workers remember work before email. We remember walking over to a colleague’s desk to pass along important information and knowing 100% they got it. We like knowing. A simple, “got it,” allows us to breathe easier.
  2. Provide a perspective. My Millennial co-workers are the most resourceful bunch. They provide information I didn’t even know I needed. But sometimes it’s information overload when I need a perspective as to what the information means to what we’re working on. And, that’s critical thinking. Yes, critical thinking is a practiced skill. It sometimes means figuring out how something won’t work, too. Providing a perspective, even if it’s not 100%, gives your team members a jumping off point.
  3. Let your mind wander to discover the next step. Think of the step not on the action plan that must happen to make a project or campaign stellar. When I entered the workforce, I drove or walked to my Google, which was the library–without my smartphone because it wasn’t invented yet. That gave me time to let my mind wander to the “what if”.  And, that type of thinking is brain candy to Gen Xers … what could we do that would be amazing that we haven’t thought of yet?
  4. Work late when it matters. Work-life balance is important. It is. But so are deadlines. And, some things cannot wait until tomorrow. Especially when it comes to deadline driven marketing activities like event promotion, advertising and media relations. Gen Xers who were never allowed to retake a test during high school or college are super respectful of deadlines and doing what it takes (read staying up all night studying) to achieve them. After working late when it really counts a few times, you’ll win total respect from your Gen X peers.
  5. Edit. It takes a few minutes to go back and edit an email before you hit send.  There used to be a saying … you can have it fast or right. This meant, hey, it takes time to do quality work. And people respected that. Not today. Not with the 24/7 instant nature of communication. Everything is fast. But, to your Gen X co-workers (and clients) even the littlest of things still have to be right. Like spelling. Like grammar. Emails filled with typos chip away at the trust in your communication abilities – which can chip away in the trust in your overall ability. If you take a few minutes to smartly edit every email you send, you will eliminate that problem.

Why does any of this matter? Because perception is reality and sometimes it’s not your creativity, intelligence and skill level that shape the perception other have of you. It’s your delivery. So, these little details of “how” to work are more important than you realize in getting the credit you deserve for how brilliant you are, especially to Gen X co-workers who value these things.





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