The FIVE worst work habits I see in the 200+ Millennials I employ.

I have a few bones to pick with my generation after watching and supervising my peers for the last 10 years.

June 19th, 2017   |    By: Carmen Sample    |    Tags: Culture, Management, Work-Life Balance, Recruiting

I have written the post on the 8 reasons that make me different as a millennial boss. I think Millennials are bad asses and can harness their power for good. Remember though that I am on the cusp of generations. I identify about half and half with Gen X and Millennials. I consider myself a bit of a generational fairy….. 🙂


That said, I also have a few bones to pick with my generation after watching and supervising my peers for the last 10 years. Please don’t take it personally, Millennials! I still love you….xoxo.

Here we go:

1. Complaining you worked 70 hours a week once you become salaried.

Every time I hear someone say this I envision myself with imaginary steam coming out of my ears. When I used to hear someone say this I would try to be “Good Boss”. I would nod my head, keep a neutral expression and try to understand the undertone and validate their work.

I can no longer fake my exasperation about this ridiculous statement. When someone now expresses this I straight up roll my eyes, sit back in my chair and ask them to break that shit down….70 hours a week? Explain yo’ self.

70 HOURS A WEEK? Hold up. You mean to tell me that you are working from 9am to 7pm SEVEN DAYS A WEEK? With NO BREAKS? Seriously — No you don’t.

You may work 50 on a tough week….and that isn’t that tough. Truth is….I don’t work anywhere close to 70 hours in an average week and you definitely aren’t working more than me. Get out of here with that crap.

Part of the luxury of working a flexible schedule is monitoring your own time and being responsible enough not to complain about managing your flexibility….don’t ruin it for everyone else.

Wonder Woman - Bitch Please

2. Actively promoting the work/life balance fairy tale.

This myth has saturated the internet and everyone has become consumed by it to the point where it is damaging our professional credibility. 25 year-olds now use it as a catch-phrase:

“I’m looking for a job that provides work/life balance”…….

WHAT!?!?!? For what reason? To take care of your cat? I just don’t get it.

You are supposed to work hard in your 20’s…that is what the 20’s are for. Work hard, play hard. You can start talking about work/life balance in 20 years when you have kids and a mortgage and ballet recitals and real responsibilities.

Right now, you should be working your ass off to prove yourself and build a career path. Don’t come to me with how you need more “balance” to play your video games — you will not get a tiny bit of sympathy from me.

3. Constantly expecting ONLY positive feedback.

My favorite is when I sit down with someone to review how they can improve performance metrics and the response becomes “I really just wish you would give me more feedback”.

It is at this point that I tilt my head to the side, squint my eyes, and respond with “I AM giving you feedback…right now, in fact… right in this very second…”. I then realize that it isn’t feedback they want, they want POSITIVE feedback.

Hear this: Feedback may be critical and constructive — and should be. If you have never received constructive feedback before I would say your previous boss wasn’t doing their job.

That said, I think you are doing a good job, which is why you continue to be employed on my team. If I didn’t, I would tell you. I promise. I really will.

That said — No, I’m not going to tell you “good job” every hour….or even every day. Maybe once a week — maybe once a month — maybe once a quarter. I save my “good jobs” for when they are REALLY good.

Why? I’m training you to note the difference between “meh” and “wow”. Otherwise, I simply expect you to do generally well all the time. Your paycheck is your daily “good job” pat on the back.

Sound harsh? That is adulting, my Millennial friends.

4. You aren’t a special snowflake and you need to work hard to learn new skills.

Being “special” is earned, not automatic. My mom told me I was “special” too (see, I AM a millennial!) – and that kind of messed me up professionally. She went so far as convincing my elementary school that I needed to skip Kindergarten because I was “so bright” (in her humble mother opinion).

I remember her telling me how smart I was to the point where I remember thinking I didn’t need to study for tests in high school and just wing it…turns out I’m not actually that smart. I had average SAT and ACT scores. I had a very average GPA in school. I later did IQ testing and turns out….I’m pretty average.

In my “I’m Special” fog I remember thinking I should just “know things” and being confused by my lower grades. It took me one year into college and being on my own before I realized I wasn’t a special flower and had to work for what I wanted.

We ALL have to work hard to learn new things. It is painful to watch someone complain about work being “too hard”. It is supposed to be hard and challenging and yes, it is going to require you to work at developing a new skill.

Nobody is so smart that they will just absorb information by osmosis — you must make an effort to distinguish yourself from all of the other special snowflakes in the workforce.

“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”.

— Thomas Edison

5. You aren’t above the system.

It surprises me how frequently someone will decide that they don’t like the way we work and that they want to work the way that is “best for them”. Unfortunately, this isn’t an option and will end up causing a lot of stress and resentment as your supervisor needs to be able to track your work.

I know you want me to “trust” in your ability to get it done your way, but truth be told: I don’t. If the company uses a system or a platform, then you are expected to engage in that platform, not use your own.

You may think you “know better”, but in this context you need to be able to put your wisdom aside and trust that the company is simply needing it to be done that way.

Ask questions if you don’t understand it. I am open to you challenging the system (the Millennial in me welcomes a good push toward efficiency). That said, my advice is to suggest a better solution while continuing to engage in the system built for you.

So, Millennials, we are setting the standards for the next generation and as we all become the professional leaders in the workforce, it is important that we promote work habits that will keep our future companies running and organized so that we can build a strong economy to keep employing more Millennials.

Just wait, pretty soon we are going to start complaining about Generation Z and their future work habits (yes, they are coming). That said, we need to suck up some of the feelings and do the work to show how special we secretly know that we really are… then that hard work may earn you a pat on the back…or maybe a promotion with more hours a week. 🙂

Either way, let’s say “Thank you for the opportunity to work hard….I can’t wait to get started”.

Also see: Millennial Bosses: 8 Values That Make Those Of Us Born in the 80’s Different


About the Author

Carmen Sample

Carmen Sample is a Social Entrepreneur that built a 10 million dollar biz in 7 years, including a social service agency, treatment agency, retail biz, gallery and a restaurant. Follow her on Twitter: @carmensampleco

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