how to adjust to your young new coworkers

If your office is like many around the country at this time of year, you might have had an influx of recent graduates who are now in their first post-college jobs – and are now working alongside you as coworkers. Parts of this might be great – you have someone to delegate work to, and they’ll explain to you who Iggy Azalea is. But other parts might not be so great: They don’t know how to use the copier, some of them call you “bro,” and like generations before them, they over-share about the questionable ways they spent their Friday night.

But rather than eying them grumpily in staff meetings and turning yourself into the office curmudgeon, consider cutting them some slack. After all, we were all rookies once. Here are five tips for co-existing with your office’s newest crop of young workers.

1. Avoid making generational stereotypes. You don’t have to look far to find a wealth of stereotypes about millenials: they can’t work independently, they want constant praise, they don’t want to pay their dues, they’re obsessed with technology – the list goes on and on, just like it has for every generation before them. These stereotypes are far from being true across the board, and you will do your relationships with your new colleagues no favors if you assume they are. Treat them like individual people rather than representatives of their generation.

2. Don’t get frustrated if things that are obvious to you aren’t obvious to them. It might seem like common sense to you that of course you shouldn’t play on your phone throughout a meeting or that they should speak up if they don’t have enough work to do, but this kind of thing often isn’t obvious at all to workplace newbies. It can be easy to think, “Well, I would have known that when I was just starting out” – and maybe you would have. But your new coworkers might come from backgrounds where they weren’t taught the same norms that you were, so give them the benefit of the doubt at first. That doesn’t mean that you should give bad behavior a pass, but it does mean that it would be kind to patiently explain expectations that will help them succeed.

3. Be very clear when assigning work. If you’re working on a project with a less experienced worker, be sure that you’re being as explicit as possible about what a successful outcome should (and shouldn’t) look like, any constraints that need to be taken into account, resources they might use, who needs to be consulted, deadlines, and other pieces of the work that you might normally take for granted. Spending a few extra minutes to make explicit the pieces that feel implicit to you will likely pay off in better outcomes (and ultimately save time for you in the long run).

4. Don’t mother them. Age differences can bring out weird behavior in people. But just like you probably don’t want younger coworkers relating to you like their parents, they don’t want you to try to parent them either. That means you should cool it with any unsolicited advice about their personal lives or whether they’re eating healthily enough. While behaving maternally or paternally toward younger coworkers no doubt comes from a kind place, it’s undermining to young professionals and their ability to be taken seriously at work.

5. Mentor people when you’re willing to. Think back to when you were just starting out – there were probably a small number of people who were especially helpful to you. Consider paying it forward now, by helping your new coworkers acclimate to office life: Take them out to lunch, make yourself available for questions, and generally be a resource and someone they can bounce things off of. It can be enormously fulfilling to watch someone you’ve mentored blossom under your guidance and go on to great things. (And they might even be hiring someday.)

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 115 comments… read them below }

  1. Adam*

    Is “Iggy Azalea” a code phrase for something? I just turned 30 so apparently that moved me out of the ‘need to know’ demographic.

    1. Kay*

      LOL! I’m 28, but Iggy Azalea is a music artist. She did the song “Fancy”… I still listen to the “top 40” radio station even though it gets really repetitive; in my city the DJs are better than the other station DJs.

      1. Adam*

        Oh…she did THAT song. I guess I did know at some point but my brain went into self-preservation forgetful mode. Thanks for the clarification. I never listen to radio these days except Pandora. It amazes me how cringe worthy radio DJs can be.

        1. Kay*

          Yeah, I’m usually horrible with artists and song titles, but the DJs say them enough and you hear the same song over and over enough times and it sticks with you. I don’t have satellite radio or anything, and currently my commute is ~35-45 minutes, so I listen to the DJs that piss me off the least.

          It seems like the format for most is to talk about shows like the bachelor and survivor and other reality television and I’ve never understood why radio shows would spend time on that. You have a few classes of people. 1) People who have seen the show and know what you’re talking about, but they’ve already seen it, so it’s not like you need to rehash it for them. 2) People who have DVR’d it but haven’t watched it yet, in which case, SPOILERS and they don’t want to hear it. 3) People who don’t watch that show and don’t care. (For the record, I fall in category 3 the vast majority of the time) I used to have a roll of 5 or so stations and just change the station every time I heard a DJ talk, until I found this one. So annoying. /rant

          1. Adam*

            Radio is a dinosaur of an industry to be sure. The ‘lifestyle’ shows that talk about whatever’s popular at the moment can be both mind numbing yet insanely addictive. It kind of horrified me to realize at one point just how much I knew about certain reality shows despite having never actually watched a single moment of them EVER! That was the sign I needed to switch radio stations.

          2. TL*

            I found a really great station in Austin that played – uh, adult contemporary? And the DJs did a really great mix of local, national, and fluff events, plus just talking about their lives and doing some fun listener-interactive things.

            I really loved that station. Then they got rid of the two main DJs (there were 4 total) right before I moved, and I was sad.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I listen to podcasts and NPR in the car for the most part. I wouldn’t even say I’m one of those “I only listen to deep indie music” types, it’s just the repetitiveness of radio that gets to me.

          I heard an interview with a DJ from Hot 97 in NYC (which is the local “urban” station) where he explained how commercial radio got so bad (at least from his experience in hip-hop radio). Basic answer was marketing and advertising demand, spurred by change in ownership from local to ClearChannel/RadioOne type corporations. Parent company (and the advertisers) wanted data showing every song played drew in listeners.

          1. Adam*

            To be honest I’m not convinced radio was ever that good really. I remember driving around in my teens wishing for the DJs to shut up and get back to the music because they sounded awful then too. We just didn’t have the options we do now. Back then it was either music or news and what self-respecting teen wants to listen to the news?

            1. Stephanie*

              Historically, black radio, at least, had a community activist bent to it (in addition to serving as a venue for artists that couldn’t get on mainstream radio). Granted, with ClearChannel running things, it is now the same two Drake songs played every hour.

              Interesting movie is Talk To Me, starring Don Cheadle, which is a biopic of Petey Greene, a DJ/activist in the 6os and 70s in DC.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, globally radio has been a fascinating and empowering medium. I think the US had such easy access to television that radio became a bit of a poor relation.

                1. James M*

                  I blame commercialization. You have to dig deep to find any hint of public service in broadcast media, but those are being steadily quashed.

              2. Anx*

                101.9 was pretty mainstream for an ‘alt-rock’ station and they were replaced by one of those mega-broadcast stations.

                If an alt-rock station can’t survive in NYC….where can it?

                1. voluptuousfire*

                  ^ In two different incarnations, nevertheless!

                  Apparently there’s not enough of a “rock” demographic in NYC to facilitate a modern rock station outside of Q104, the classic rock station.

                  It’s funny, but I’m born and raised in NYC and grew up listening to the radio here. I loved it so much I went to college and majored in communications to get into radio. Now I’m glad I completely avoided it. It’s gone to pot, which stinks.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t either anymore, but it’s mostly because they play two songs and then have twenty minutes worth of ads and yapping. I’d rather just put my phone playlist on through the auxiliary cable.

        4. Hillary*

          You might like The Current from Monnesota Public Radio (no link to avoid moderation, but it’s mpr dot org). It’s a great mix of music, interesting djs and no commercials.

      2. KAZ2Y5*

        Oh my goodness! I won’t say how old I am but I saw someone online talking about “Fancy” and thought they were talking about the Reba McEntire song! :-)

      1. Audiophile*

        She’s real alright.

        I liked the video because of the “Clueless” parody element. I don’t really love, LOVE the song though. Really it just made me want to watch the movie again.

    2. Mints*

      I know other people have answered, but let me put on my millennial hat and give another answer:

      Iggy Azalea is a white female rapper from Australia (who speaks with an Australian accent) who’s whole stage persona is basically an imitation of Nicki Minaj (a black female rapper).

      And you know those old internet jokes where your rapper name was your pet’s name and your street name? That’s actually her rapper name: a dog named Iggy, and an area called Azalea

      1. Stephanie*

        Iggy Azalea is a white female rapper from Australia (who speaks with an Australian accent) who’s whole stage persona is basically an imitation of Nicki Minaj (a black female rapper).

        Aaaand that’s exactly what bothers me about her. The persona seems like a parody (the voice in particular). Of course, many of those rappers exaggerate their backgrounds and there are plenty of non-black rappers, there’s just something really uncomfortable about her performance persona.

        1. Anx*

          I don’t know what to call it. I don’t think it’s parody, and it’s not simply appropriation. But it’s racist and really gross. And she’s profiting wildly off of her schtick. I feel really guilty because I actually liked Fancy even though it was a pretty silly song and then I got to know who she is. Sometimes I can separate an artist from their music, but she’s just too gross.

        2. Mints*

          Yeah I’ve seen her performance called a minstrel show, which I think is too strong, but not completely wrong

        3. businesslady*

          yeah, she’s super gross. but without her & “Fancy,” we’d never have the Weird Al parody “Handy,” so I begrudgingly have to thank her for making that happen.

      2. Waiting Patiently*

        Oh gosh I might be dating myself here but she also totally sounds like the rapper The Brat….

    3. De Minimis*

      It’s funny, I think I’ve done a fairly good job at keeping up with at least most current music even though I’m in my early 40s, but that has been the first one of whom I have almost know knowledge. I’ve seen the name mentioned on some entertainment news sites, but that’s as far as I know.

  2. Carrie in Scotland*

    In my old place of work the newbie says “sweetheart” and “sweetie” rather than “bro”…but still not very appropriate!

        1. Jen RO*

          My new coworker uses ‘bro’ all the time! And he’s a walking meme encyclopedia. I don’t mind it (I have lots of friends who used to be like that), but most of the other coworkers find it annoying.

      1. Dan*

        I get in less trouble for calling a girl “dude” than I do “babe” so I stick with dude. It’s now gender neutral. Languages evolve, ya know?

        1. Elysian*

          I agree, I’m in the camp that “dude” has evolved into gender neutral. I still don’t use it at work though.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          My female coworker and I (also female) just had an exchange that ended, “Thanks man!” “You’re welcome man!” It sounded like a beer commercial.

      2. Leah*

        I say “dude” all the time…outside of work. There was one coworker I’d use it with. We’re the same age and from the same area (where it’s super common) so it is fine.

    1. PGTips*

      A 40+ woman in my office has a pet name for everyone- even perfect strangers and will use it repeatedly in the course of a conversation.
      This list goes on and on.
      She also can never say “The” either it’s always got to be “La” as in “La photocopier is out of paper”. Annoying can not begin to describe it.

      1. Elysian*

        Chicken? Really? Is that supposed to be a good thing? Ugh, I would be unbearable to work with my coworker was calling me Chicken.

      2. Career Counselorette*

        My mom does that. She does not speak enough French to actually justify what she’s doing, so she’ll text me like “I’m at la parlor de beaute.” Just. Stop.

    2. James M*

      Maybe we can co-opt “broh” and “brah” as masculine/feminine 2nd person pronouns. “Bruh” could be neutral (if you’re uncertain about the person you’re talking to).</jk>

    3. holly*

      one of my interns (female) called one of my coworkers (male) “bebe.” i think i did a bit of a doubletake, but he didn’t react so i figured their friendship was close enough where that was ok with him. also i noticed after that that she called other interns the same thing.

  3. Jason*

    It might seem like common sense to you that (of course) employees shouldn’t play on their phones throughout meetings.

    I have seen baby boomers and millennials alike who unfortunately need this reminder.

    Largely agree with the points in the article. I think it’s better to view someone younger as new and less experienced (and eager to learn) rather than branding them a “millennial.” I find thinking of someone as their generational label (e.g., baby boomer, gen X, millennial) makes it easier to stereotype and become divisive in the workplace.

    1. Sophia*

      “they should speak up if they don’t have enough work to do”

      Yes, in fact I know a baby boomer now who still does this. Drives me crazy!

    2. Adam*

      Agreed. Phone/device entrapment is definitely not an age specific pitfall. Oddly enough it doesn’t really bother me in meetings (because my office is famous for boring meetings), but if someone pulls out the phone while we’re having dinner I want to give it a bath in their beer.

      1. Stephanie*

        Hate phones during meals. I’d like to think I’m more interesting than Facebook pictures of HS acquaintance’s baby.

        Phones aren’t age specific. My last boss was usually on his iPhone during our one-on-ones (which were via Skype, so it was even more awkward).

        1. Adam*

          He was on his phone while on Skype? So were you on your computer just glaring at his forehead the whole time?

          1. Stephanie*

            Sort of. I was in our video conference room and we’d be talking and his phone would ding and he’d check it. Since he was the point of contact for the clients, he was contacted frequently, so a lot of meetings would be interrupted with “Oh, this is Percival from Teapots Ltd. I have to take this” and involve me just sitting there on video conference waiting for him to finish a call or reply to an email. I also noticed some idle browsing as well when I was talking. I was glad when he gave up on the one-on-ones (especially since I did a lot of work ahead of time to prep).

        2. AmyNYC*

          Yep. I just stop talking while they’re on the phone. In a few seconds they look up and I say, “Oh, I’m just waiting for you to finish that.” 9 times out of 10 they put it away.

            1. John B Public*

              Boss:”Oh, you can keep going, I’m listening”
              Me:”It’s ok sir, you set aside this time to meet, I want to give you 100% of my input.”

      2. De Minimis*

        My parents have gotten almost downright annoying to eat with due to their constant phone/Facebook checking. They’re in their early 60s!

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I see older and more experienced employees glued to their phones in meetings more often that I see younger employees doing the same. In fact, a lot of the new interns seem especially considerate about turning off their phones and tucking them away before walking into a meeting. If I had to guess, I’d say schools are doing a better job of conditioning young people about this.

      Have others noticed this? Or is my experience unique?

      1. Adam*

        I’ve kind of seen that too. If I were to guess the new to the workforce employees might be of the mind that they need to put their best foot forward and are forgoing the phone in favor of making a good impression. The more seasoned workers, particularly those with some measure of authority, may have been in the rodeo long enough to where they don’t feel the need to put up appearances depending on the office.

        1. De Minimis*

          I always used to see the more senior people on their phones during meetings, I think the reasoning was that they were busy checking on the status of various projects, keeping in contact with clients, and so on. New employees would not have any responsibilities that required that level of communication, so they would be far less likely to have a work-related reason to be using their phones during a meeting.

          1. Adam*

            This is definitely possible for some, but I’ve seen plenty of them texting just about what to have for dinner that night as well!

        2. Dan*

          Honestly, the constant smart phone usage from the old dudes is the modern day equivalent of “Do you know who I am?” Yes, we know who you are. And the really important people don’t need to rub it in our faces.

        3. Sharm*

          Yup. It’s always senior management (aka 40s/50s) people in my experience who do this. I’ve never seen a younger person do it in a meeting. I (31) don’t even bring my phones to meetings. I just leave it at my desk. I thought that was the common, courteous thing to do, but evidently not with the senior people. Clearly, they’re so much more important than the rest of us. I mean, I get it, they are, but I am really not okay with the disrespect I see. If even they could say, “I apologize in advance, I’m expecting a very important call I have to take,” I could live with it. But no one ever does that.

      2. Elizabeth*

        I’m right in prime Millennial territory (born 1987), and I never bring my phone into meetings. I’m not senior enough to be “on call” constantly, and I always feel bad for the person leading things when I see the majority of people texting away or fiddling with some app or other. Even if the meeting is boring and/or unproductive, it’s my job to be there, and I give it my fullest attention.

      3. Shortie*

        Ann, I have noticed this as well. In my organization, the below-40 crowd (generally speaking) tends not to look at their phones during meetings, but the 40+ crowd is really bad about it. It almost seems like they don’t understand the etiquette since smartphones haven’t been around that long, but if that were really the issue, I would think the 30-40 crowd would have trouble too. Not sure what the real issue is?

        I have noticed this with my parents as well. I am respectful when visiting their home and turn off my ringer, don’t answer my cell unless it’s extremely important, don’t text or check Facebook, etc. I figure that I’m there visiting them at their request, so I should pay attention to them. They, however, spend the entire time texting and talking on their phones and playing Candy Crush. Then they ask why I don’t visit more. :-/

    4. Steve G*

      Everyone does need this reminder. The only difference I see is that older workers play on their phones but younger ones have no shame about popping open a laptop and doing work during a meeting. Not that older people don’t do that too, but I guess it’s more shocking when someone in their mid-20s pops open a laptop FIRST, instead of a 40-something Director-level employee.

      The last time I looked for a job, in 2009, I was surprised by one company I interviewed at – I could see into the conference rooms and everyone was on their laptops while someone presented a PPT. What was the point of going to the meeting??!!!

      1. Mike C.*

        We have meetings like that. For our meetings, we bring lots of folks in from other departments to ensure we aren’t making plans that would end up screwing up something only they would know about, or to take action items.

        To directly answer your question, you’re there to ensure the plan being presented will mesh with what’s going on elsewhere or to serve as a source to ask questions about other department’s processes.

        1. De Minimis*

          We had a thing where you were required to attend so many meetings [often trainings/presentations] per quarter. You got in trouble with HR if you didn’t. Most people used to work on other stuff during the meeting. The presenter didn’t care, because they too were checking off a work requirement for them to conduct so many trainings. Such is life in a big company.

          Even in meetings that were more about a specific work project, there usually was only one portion of it that was directly relevant to your workgroup, so the temptation was there to just do something else for the rest of the meeting. It was part of the culture, to always be working at something whenever possible…and bill the client.

      2. Lora*

        *raises hand* I totally do this. But, but, I have an excuse–ALL the bloody meetings I go to revolve on having not enough information about (whatever). Every. Last. One. I have never sat in a meeting where everyone had all the information they needed before they walked into the meeting. If I did not have a laptop and phone, so that I could obtain that information on the spot, we would have to have ANOTHER FREAKIN’ MEETING afterwards to discuss what we had found out since last week. Pushing the entire decision-making process back a week, and typically igniting some sort of argument between two people, neither of whom had half a clue about the facts and could hardly be troubled to find them out before wasting everyone else’s time arguing over what may or may not be true. The ability to tap on the keyboard for 15 seconds and settle the matter with “the answer is X, it says so right here” or make a phone call, “Hi Mr. VP, this is Lora, I just had a quick question” is invaluable.

        Of course, I personally do not see any reason to go to a meeting that features PowerPoint decks, particularly not those with 4-pt Comic Sans, GANTT charts and clip art. But that is a different story.

      3. Monodon monoceros*

        Almost all of the meetings I go to, all of the participants have their laptops. This is mostly because all of the materials are emailed or in a Dropbox folder and everyone is usually looking at what we’re talking about, or taking notes. Even during powerpoints, we usually have them ahead of time and the presenter is basically explaining the graphs/charts/maps that we’re all looking at together. The ppt is usually just up on the screen so the presenter can point out what we should be looking at on our own screens.

      4. Anx*

        Maybe they are pulling up the internet so they can answer any questions that arise?

        I used to head a committee where someone would bring their laptop (pre-smartphone ubiquity) so we could quickly get quotes, answer logistical questions, etc.

        I made a point to make sure we weren’t looking up every issue as it came up, because I didn’t want to squash any brainstorming (I also made sure to check back at the end to see if anyone had any ideas because not everyone brainstorms well in groups). But every time we came to a lull we’d assess some logistics. It eliminated so much “I’ll get back to you about ____.”

        This wasn’t a work environment and we only met once a week, so the structure of communication was a little bit different.

  4. Jake*

    To address your last point, when I was 6 months into my first job I had a concrete superintendent start teaching me some important stuff about field work, which is normally outside my scope. One day about 2 years into that job we were riding in his truck and I was talking to him about a possible opportunity at another company.

    We vented about our current project, and I mentioned how much I owed some of the people I worked with for helping me become good at what I did, including him. He laughed and said I don’t owe him anything because before too long I’ll be in the position to hire folks like him, and he figured he’d have a leg up if he helped me out.

    It sounded like a humble way of saying you’re welcome at the time, but looking back, I think there was some truth to that being his motivation.

  5. cv*

    I’d add one more: give positive feedback and be reassuring when the person is doing well. I’ve now started enough new internships and jobs that I understand that I’ll be more of a drain than a help for a short time, and that I won’t reach real comfort and effectiveness for a good while longer – sometimes a week or two, sometimes a few months, depending on the context. When I first started out, though, I was really unsettled by how long that process took, especially because with first jobs you often have to have someone give you lots of detailed instructions for some pretty basic tasks. Having to go back and ask a bunch of minor questions in order to carry out a task that seems like it should be simple can leave you feeling like you’re just annoying your manager and coworkers and like you’re not doing a good job. For someone who was a good student and excelled in the academic environment where assignments and expectations were printed up front on the syllabus, it can be a pretty disconcerting transition.

    1. KayDay*

      Yes, this! In addition, positive feedback isn’t just about “millennials” always needing praise, it’s about new employees needing to know if they should continue to do X just as they might need to know not to do Y again. Especially when new employees are told to do a lot of things differently, they need to know what not to do differently, so that they don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, that whole thing about millennials needing praise is getting tiring. To me it like picking on someone because they eat food, actual food, imagine that. No, we need food and we all need to hear cheers every so often. It’s just part of being human.
        I guess we are just going to have to keep saying that.

  6. madge*

    I work at a public university and we’re fortunate that almost all of our work-study/interns have been exceptional. They bring a fresh perspective and energy into our office, and they have outstanding IT skills. I prefer them over the baby boomer colleague who converses loudly across our cube farm with no one in particular.

    1. Fabulously Anonymous*

      And I would add: don’t call them “kids.” Especially with students. They may be in school, but they are not children.

  7. Fabulously Anonymous*

    “4. Don’t mother them.” This. I look young for my age and I started my career later. On paper it looks like I’m in my late 20s, but in reality, I’m early 40s. A previous manager made the mothering mistake, only to find out that I was older than her.

    1. Career Counselorette*

      THIS IS THE BEST. When I was working in an afterschool program, a lot of people who weren’t there every day assumed I was an older teen (I’m 30) and would noticeably change the tone of their voice to talk to me. SO patronizing. And once, one of the occasional high school volunteers thought I was another teenager and actually started YELLING at me, literally raising her voice to me, over something in this Disney channel voice, like “OH MY GOD WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA, DUH” and it was so satisfying to set her straight.

      1. Anx*

        There have been times I’ve avoided makeup, because the bags under my eyes are the only thing about me that screams “not a teen” (I had them then but not as bad).

        I mean, I think I look my age, but apparently I don’t.

        1. Shortie*

          Anx, I do this too. In personal life, I apply a full face of makeup when going out in public, but for work events, I use no concealer under my eyes (usually no eye makeup at all) and use less blush in an attempt to look my age. It’s not that I look terribly youthful, but I’m very small and short and have a teeny voice, so people immediately assume “young” even though I have hella age spots and crow’s feet.

  8. Sunflower*

    I’m adding don’t assume when a new worker asks about a process or asks to do something differently that they are implying they are smarter than you/the company. I’ve seen some seasoned workers feel personally attacked when young people come in and start questioning things- most of the time they are just curious or are comfortable doing things a different way. 9.5/10 times they do not think they know more than you or are saying the company should change it’s policies and start doing everything this way. Remember that they have spent the last 21 years of their life being asked ‘what do you think’ and ‘how would you do it’ in school. Adjusting to a completely different dynamic where you are mostly getting told how to do things is unnatural for some people so try to be sympathetic and don’t write them off as ‘the new guy who thinks he knows everything’

    1. fposte*

      Though if you ask about everything when you haven’t been invited to, that’s naive workplace behavior, too, and employees should be aware that that can be problematic. What you’re seeing as “personally attacked” might be somebody who’s annoyed at the assumption that that’s an appropriate use of time–because it often isn’t.

      1. Sunflower*

        That’s the thing- a lot of the time it is just naivete but instead of having a conversation with them, some people just complain and call them entitled or brats and I think that’s a bold assumption over asking a question. It is annoying and it kind of sucks because there’s not a super comfortable way to tell someone ‘Look you aren’t supposed to come in and ask a million questions’. But there’s a difference ‘would this guy shut up? Who cares about the process, just do it’ and ‘who does this new guy think he is?! I’ve been here for x years and we would never do that’.

    2. Josie*

      Yes, and while some may be obnoxious people who need to get used to being at the bottom of the ladder, some are just trying to “take initiative” and worry that by just showing up and doing what they’re told, they’re not proving their value. I think one problem is that a lot of new grads are coming out of higher education programs that were historically designed to train only a few managers, but due to degree inflation, all entry-level workers have these degrees (see people going directly to MBAs after undergrad). But they’ve been told in school that they’re expected to be leaders in the field.

      1. Laura2*

        Yeah, I think there are some confusing messages given to people new to the workplace. First, that you should STFU and do your work and be happy to have a job. Second, that you have to make yourself “visible to management” or you’re seen as not really being interested in the work or worthy of a raise/promotion because all you do is show up and work.

    3. noter*

      Agree, however, getting a fresh new perspective could be a good thing. You could be doing the same thing for 20 years and not realize that there’s a BETTER way to do it.

  9. A Kate*

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your first recommendation. As a millennial, all I want in a work environment is the chance to prove myself and to have my competence judged by the quality of my work and my demonstrated maturity, not my numerical age. I’ve been lucky to have this in the job I held between college and grad school and the internships I’ve done along the way. I hope it continues!

  10. AmyNYC*

    I’ve got a younger co-worker (23ish) who friended me on Facebook and keeps posting photos of raves he goes to every weekend. It’s Facebook, not LinkedIn… but it still seems unprofessional/naive to post that kind of stuff. I told my college age cousin something similar, but with a co-worker? Should I say something?
    PS: I’m 27, so not that long out of college, but 27 is a whole other world than 22!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you should say something. As you said, it’s Facebook, not LinkedIn. If you want to be this person’s friend, you have to accept he will post personal photos and stuff on Facebook, because his other friends will probably actually care about and want to see that stuff.

      I think, instead of saying something, if you don’t want to see that stuff, you can just click to hide all posts from that co-worker… or de-friend him on Facebook.

    2. B*

      This is the exact reason I have a rule of not friending anyone on Facebook I work with, as well as make sure all of my settings are very private. Because it is Facebook you have chosen to see that part of their life. Your best bet is to unfriend. If they ask why then you can let them know you like to give your Facebook life and work life separate. You can go into further detail than that but are not obligated to do so.

    3. Onymouse*

      Why not just unfollow him. Out of sight, out of mind, and you’re still facebook friends.

  11. Tansy*

    Oh dear this article hits close to home.

    #1 – My boss at our EOFY party started going on a rant about my generation, how we’re all lazy and demanding and have no work ethic… Luckily I was sitting with a friend who is on the cusp between Gen X and Gen Y and he joined me in fighting back. “Are you saying I don’t have a work ethic?!” made him say “not you, your generation!” which was amusing in its terribleness.

    And then #3. Another partner at my work has recently been assigning me tasks on a case she is running. I’m a lawyer with 2-3 years experience, but she’s treating me on a need-to-know basis on this case. I do work, she doesn’t give me detailed instructions about any outside issues I need to be aware of, then it turns out (on several occasions now) I have put my foot in an issue (each was a different issue). She gets angry at me, and blames me (!!!) on the basis that I am experienced enough to know not to put my foot in it. Yes, I am. I would have dealt with those issues properly if I knew about them. But she never told me the issues existed! I am so frustrated with her recently. Immaturity 101: blaming junior employees for something they did, which you could have avoided by communicating properly or checking their work more thoroughly.

  12. Empy*

    Great article. I would just add:

    #6: remember that once upon a time, you were once their age, too! And probably made some of the same mistakes, even though the technology has changed.

    [This can probably be filed as redundant under “not becoming the office curmudgeon” :)]

  13. Pennalynn Lott*

    “Don’t mother them.” Surely there’s a gender-neutral way to phrase this. When I first started out, there were older men who wanted to be like a big brother to me or even like a work-dad, but we would never say that they “fathered” me, because that implies that I carry some of their genes.

    And saying, “Don’t mother them,” gets all those big brothers and work-dads off the hook, because of course they’ll say, “Well, I’ve never mothered anybody.”

    1. Evilduck*

      This, absolutely. At my most recent job, I had at least three work-dads. I think part of it was that I was getting a lot of praise for my work and I’d notice them trying to take credit for molding me into the employee I was — and not in a mentor-ly way. But I have a dad already and I like him very much, thank you. I tried to take it as a compliment, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t obnoxious.

  14. Theguvnah*

    The mentoring suggestion is bringing up something for me. I have a millenial employee who seems to clearly want me to mentor her – but I don’t want to. I don’t especially like her, I didn’t hire her so much as inherit her, I don’t think she’s particularly talented, and she straight up says she doesn’t want to work in this field long term. I have absolutely no incentive to spend any extra time on her and I’m having trouble navigating this. (Obviously none of this is explicit). Anyone been in a similar place?

  15. Belinda Gomez-Maldonado*

    Workers this new to the job force need to adjust to me, not the other way around.i trut you’ll be doing a primer for them, as well?

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      This entire blog is a primer, but young workers don’t know what they don’t know and it’s the job of older workers, and especially supervisors and managers, to teach them. Especially interns because they are often literally working for free for the opportunity to be taught office mores.

    2. John B Public*

      Change is inevitable. As is new people. You should be adjusting/have already adjusted to onboarding new employees. If you need help with that speak to your manager, because there definitely are people who have different learning styles or are just insufferable. Expecting them to just “adjust” like Marty McFly’s shoes in Back to the Future II is not realistic. Shoes have to be worn a few times and worn in. It takes effort on your part.

  16. Julie*

    I’m almost 40 and have “Fancy” on my current workout playlist.
    Thanks for making me feel cool!

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