I just returned from attending my Class of ’88 high school reunion (Go Golden Lancers!) and one of the topics of conversation that popped up among my Gen X peers was about how in the business world, co-workers in Millennial generation seem so different from us. Yes, we had Billy Idol, Miami Vice and Rubik’s Cube, but our sense of responsibility, work ethic, and attitude feels like it has not been passed down and important lessons are not being learned.
So, here are 5 solid tips from my, my, my g-g-g-generation:
Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a young 20-something upstart say “No, I didn’t do that,” or “That’s not my fault.” Please, I know you did that – just own it, learn from it and then move on. Your colleagues and boss will have greater respect for you, and chances are, you’ll learn something in the process.
Work for Someone That Pushes Your Limits – I once produced a radio show in Los Angeles and the host was the most demanding person I have ever met. I gave more than 100% of my effort, and that was still never enough, but I was able to do things that I did not think I was capable of. He showed me that sometimes the impossible IS possible and I still carry that attitude with me today. And those new skills, well, they’ll continue to serve you wherever your career path leads you.
See if you Can Figure it on Your Own First – If you are given task, make sure that you exhaust all options on you own FIRST, before you ask for help. Don’t ask me the password and login to our website when we both know you wrote it down on your first day at work. Instead, go back to your notes and find it. Being truly RESOURCEFUL is both invaluable to those around you, AND will always be a great strength to use in a future job interview.
Find a Mentor (or two, or three) – Mentors are easy to find in the workplace, they always stand out, and they seem know something about everything. Seek them out, learn as much as you can, and always stay in contact. Mentors have a great way of leading you down the right path by just having cup coffee with you. Then, when you have more experience, YOU become a mentor and return the favor, keeping the cycle of work-life churning onward.
Don’t Screw Up Your Reputation – In the age of the internet, I will find everyone that you’ve ever worked for and be able to ask them what you were like on the job, especially in a small career field where everyone knows everyone. And make sure you don’t forget about your profiles on personal social networks. I can get to those too. It’s important to keep your nose clean, not have a bad attitude, and work your tail off. ALWAYS. That’s how you move UP the ladder instead of being stuck on the fourth rung.
So as you are starting out in your career, those of us who have been around the work block a few times can save you some trouble. Remember to be responsible and resourceful and challenge yourself to grow your skills every day. Seek and keep mentors and, finally, think about your reputation and know that while it takes a long time to build a great one, it only takes one dumb move to destroy, so be deliberate and thoughtful ALWAYS as you communicate and engage with others at work.