Today’s professional world is one filled with many different types of people. As technology advances, so does the world around us and the jobs we do explains Peter Decaprio.
There are those who show up to work in starched white shirts and ties every day from 9-5, there are those who dress more casually for their office environment, and then there’s everyone else – they don’t really dress up but they also don’t look like they just rolled out of bed either. In fact, they’re probably going to a concert or a bar after work where they’ll be dressed down even more – if that’s possible!
I’m talking about 20-somethings – the generation that is changing the landscape of how work life is done today. You might have a few of them working for you, or maybe they work under you. The point is that today’s young professionals are making waves in the business world because of their unique ideas and way of approaching things. But if your office is anything like mine was when I first started my career, there were also a few old school individuals who still think certain rules apply to everyone.
While this article isn’t mean to paint all baby boomers with the same brush, it’s definitely worth noting that some young professionals cringe at the idea of calling an older individual “sir” or “ma’am” when addressing them; others find it awkward when someone much older gives them advice without knowing the fact that today’s 20-something has probably already heard what they had to say numerous times before.
But there are still some things to remember that will help you work more harmoniously with the younger individuals in your office – these are just a few of them:
- Keep politics and religion out of conversations. Your young professional may have strong views on both topics but they might not be willing to voice them at work so keep your debates to yourself – especially if it could offend or upset someone else around you (this is why coffee shops were invent, right?). You never know where your co-worker falls on the political spectrum, like I said earlier…these people tend to change their minds often! And no matter how much you’re dying to debate, questioning what they believe in regards to God is a line you don’t want to cross says Peter Decaprio. In some offices, this can be a touchy subject as it is just as sensitive of a topic as religion and politics – but keep in mind that it has no place in the office environment where everyone needs to be able to work together.
- Don’t try to befriend your young professional right away – this isn’t high school! If they’re a new hire, give them a chance to settle into their position before you go out of your way to reach out or invite them for coffee. And if they’ve been there awhile but haven’t talked much, take things slow – maybe start off with “hello” and work from there instead of going straight for the “what are you doing tonight?” line.
- Don’t assume that just because they’re young that you can talk down to them or call them “kid” – even if it’s a term of endearment, not everyone is going to like it. And yes, you will inevitably hear this person tell your boss what you said as soon as the opportunity arises – so think before you speak! Also remember that although many people in their 20s and 30s may look younger than they really are, don’t expect other people their age to be fewer than 18 either.
- If there’s junk food in the break room and your co-worker isn’t eating it, leave their plate alone! It’s absolutely ridiculous how many times someone has eaten half of my lunch and I’ve never said anything about it. There’s no need to touch what doesn’t belong to you, especially when there’s such an easy solution available: ask them what they’re having for lunch that day and then ask if you could have the rest of their sandwich!
- Keep in mind that young professionals tend to be a bit more lenient on dress code than older generations might be – but don’t think this means jeans and flip-flops are okay every day says Peter Decaprio. If today is casual Friday, rock those chucks with your khakis or whatever you decide to wear; just remember not everyone has the same comfortable work environment as yours so keep it classy even its casual Friday.
When you work closely with people, it’s inevitable that your relationship will go beyond just being co-workers – whether it’s a friendship or something more, knowing how to work together is the key. Keeping the above pointers in mind will help you have less issues working with younger employees at all levels of your organization.