I’m a Millennial Executive. How do I Get my Peers to Take me Seriously?
I ascended the ranks of my workplace quickly and became a director in just a few years. I’m in my early 30s but my peers are older and have been in the industry for decades. They don’t take me seriously and are quick to dismiss my ideas even though I have a proven track record. How can I get them to consider me as an equal?
THE ANSWER FROM CARINE LACROIX:
Working effectively with a multigenerational group that includes Millennials, Generation X’ers, Baby Boomers, and others can be a challenge. What you are experiencing (“older peers [not taking you seriously and not considering you] as equal”) is related to a low level of inclusion in your organization. Here are my suggestions:
1. Don’t keep the lack of inclusion that you experience hidden from your peers; instead, communicate with them and convey that including you will benefit them. A diverse team is a collective power because exchanging ideas lets teammates see their biases and allows them to discover new ideas and perspectives. Thus, the quality of decision-making improves.
2. In meetings with your peers, listen to their perspectives, show appreciation, and be a team player. The more they notice that you care about what they say, the more they will be motivated to reciprocate and give back by listening to your ideas. This is called the ‘social exchange theory.’ Also, provide your own input during meetings, but always listen to what others have to say.
3. Build relationships with your peers. Your intent should be to know them and learn from them. What do they like about the organization? What are the biggest challenges that they overcame? Show them that you’re interested in who they are.
As Dale Carnegie said: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”