Millennials still have a bad reputation in the workplace, and it can feel like as a Millennial you have to work even harder to gain respect. The truth is that respect is never given – it’s earned. This article is not going to be centred around how millennials are awful at work or about how they do a terrible job, millennials are not awful and how do I know this? I am a millennial.  It is easy for millennials to be seen as incapable leaders because of their youth and lack of experience by older colleagues. I remember my first job, I only performed generic duties, I would drop coffee off or take minutes at the main meeting room and I thought everything they did was so cool, I had so many opinions on the topics they discussed at the boardroom but I always wondered why I never got asked to chip in, why did they not invite me to contribute to these topics? Are my ideas and opinions completely irrelevant? Sometimes after these meetings, I would feel so insecure and sober because I did not feel included, some things the older co-workers said were even wrong or outdated and I knew better ways they could be done.  I decided to put my big boy pants on and figure out how to gain respect and trust in my workplace, here are a few things I did; •

Respect for workplace culture- by nature I am not the most conservative guy, I’m outgoing and loud, during a wild party night back in the day I got a tattoo (or two), I love dressing in comfortable clothes and I just liked being chill. I realised that the workplace culture at my job was more on the conservative side, and having my tattoo glaring in their faces or wearing non-conventional clothes made my older colleagues side-eye me, I decided to cover my tattoos and tone down my dressing, I also had to understand that these actions were not changing me but instead, I was being courteous to my co-workers and the company’s clients.

Listen- everyone wants their voice to be the loudest in the room but is important to listen to people and see where they’re coming from. More importantly, listening is the best way to learn new things. Listening also shows that you respect the other person’s ideas and perspectives. Don’t be so focused on putting your own opinions forward that you miss out on relevant information. Remember that respect is earned, and this is one of the easiest ways to earn it. The more you listen, the more you learn. By listening, you’ll learn details you might have otherwise missed or overlooked.


Avoid workplace drama- for my first three months at my job, I studied everyone closely, I knew who I liked, who I wanted to emulate and what qualities I liked in them. I knew who had a grown rapport with everyone but maintained professional boundaries and I knew who everyone was not particularly fond of. Office banter and socialising for me was okay but I constantly watched my tongue and would never go behind anyone’s back to discuss about them negatively. If it wasn’t something I could say to their faces then I would just keep quiet.

Provide solutions- ideas are nice but solutions are also important, I remember there was one time at our office where we realised that everything we did was slower because we were still using books to record information, a millennial actually found a way for us to develop an online storage database where we could all easily upload, share and access information- that was really cool. The key here is creating an actionable, practical solution that you can then take charge of. This can showcase your leadership skills as well as your ability to follow through and delegate work. Learn to take criticism- criticism would always come, but instead of considering it to be criticism, take it as constructive feedback, criticism builds character and helps with growth and all-together builds you for the better. Do not be overly confrontational or aggressive, when you receive criticism, think about it and see how you can do better.

How have you been able to gain respect as a millennial at your current job?

Yomi Olusunle

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