Thursday, October 23, 2008

Basic Work Etiquette:What Do Millennials Know?

The October 21st Wall Street Journal had an excerpt from Ron Alsop’s book “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation is Shaking Up the Workplace.” (Alsop defines the millennial generation as born between 1980 and 2001.)

I’m not a huge fan of grouping an entire generation into one catch-all description, and the excerpt in the Journal didn’t do much to change my mind on this score. Yet this one part of the excerpt did catch my attention:

It may seem obvious that employees should show up on time, limit lunchtime to an hour and turn off cellphones during meetings. But those basics aren’t necessarily apparent to many millennials.

Why do I find this hard to believe? Because most millennials did have to show up on time for school or college classes or a babysitting job or a shift at Starbucks. And in high school there was a specified length of time for lunch and at Starbucks there was a specified break time. And believe it or not, high schools and places where teens get part-time employment do have rules about cellphones.

This is why I am always leery of anecdotal evidence. You can find anecdotes to prove whatever point you’re trying to make.

But in case I’m wrong, and you are a millennial who truly doesn’t know to show up for work on time, take only an hour for lunchtime and turn off your cellphones at work (and especially during meetings), please learn these work etiquette rules right now. And then go out and prove to the world that millennials do know these things.

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Mark Truman said...

Unfortunately, I would agree with the author of the article. In my experience, my Millennial brethren are rarely on time, always first out the door at the end of the day, and all too entitled. I think years of "Everyone wins!" soccer trophies and grade inflation have taken their toll...

Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this post.