We all want our kids to be and do their best. We want them to discover their gifts and use their talents. As parents, maybe we went too far. We recognized their efforts – small and large, within the lines and outside the lines (coloring, that is). We encouraged more than our parents probably ever did.
Here we are now. The Millennial generation is entering at high-speed and everyone is slapping bumper stickers on them. Regardless of what our intentions were as parents and what the realities are today, Millennials got the label – Trophy Generation.
Well, you have to have a sense of humor. Will Rogers got it right:
“Do the best you can, and don’t take life too serious.”
So, don’t take life too seriously, and join Danny in his clever, witty, and insightful post.
Guest Post by Danny Rubin
It’s happening. We’re taking over.
The Millennial generation, which is 80+ million strong and larger than the Baby Boomers, has started to fill management roles at companies big and small. You could say our journey into the upper ranks isn’t going smoothly.
In a recent workplace study, older employees believe Gen Y managers are entitled and only concerned with ourselves.
Part of the problem: the idea that we deserve trophies for everything — even the stuff we’re expected to do all along like work hard or not burn down a forest (seriously).
Then we young folk, the so-called “Trophy Generation,” think even the smallest accomplishment is cause for major celebration. Then we figure we’re awesome. And then people call us entitled.
When you hear your name, please come to the podium and accept this year’s “honors.” You earned them!
The “Arrived on Time for Three Straight Weeks” Award
Remarkable. You have greater precision than a fine Swiss watch. If you stay punctual an entire month, the company might even name a wing after you.
The “Worked Late to Finish a Big Project” Award
Company policy says the day ends at 5:30 pm but somehow you soldiered on and didn’t leave the office until the clock struck 10. Forget about a trophy. You, fine sir or madam, deserve a medal of bravery.
The “Successfully Explained Twitter to the CEO” Award
The boss is 67. You’re 24. An outside observer might say you were the obvious choice to educate the CEO on social media. But no, what you did forever changed company culture and solidified your place as a future leader of the organization.
The “Effectively Dealt with an Annoying Client” Award
We all watched in amazement as you handled the thorniest client in company history. Until then, none of us had ever encountered a difficult business relationship. It had all been like a dream. What would we do without you?
The “Took Out the Garbage Even Though No One Asked Me” Award
The trash spewed from every can and threatened to overwhelm helpless co-workers. You calmly rolled up your sleeves, emptied each can and rid the office of vicious waste. Selflessness of the highest order. We know a trophy isn’t enough, but it will have to suffice.
The “Survived a Rough Yearly Review” Award
You entered the review feeling invincible and left with a dark shiner below your right eye. No matter. You slapped a frozen steak on the bruise, fought the urge to quit, made improvements and came back stronger than ever. Good on ya.
The “Stayed at the Same Job for More than 2 Years” Award
Everyone figured after year two you’d be long gone. Somehow, you found the strength to settle in and grow with your current organization. It takes a special kind of courage to be so committed.
And the most heralded trophy of all…
The “Lifetime Achievement by Age 27″ Award
Shut it down. Game’s over. At only 27, you became a manager with a corner office and a team of people under your dominion — some of whom are older than you. What else is there? You’ve reach the summit.
And why hasn’t someone topped off your coffee already? Interrrrn.
OK, here’s the deal. A manager and a leader are not the same thing. Management means to oversee people; leadership is to inspire. As we assume management positions, we can’t forget what it means to lead.
Team-first over me-first. Don’t need credit for a job well done. Be grateful rather than entitled. Sort of like…
The “Most Fortunate to Have Reached a Management Position” Award
Someone oughta make a trophy for that one.
Danny Rubin is the managing editor of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons “hidden” in the day’s top stories. Don’t just read the news — use it to gain an edge on the job. You can follow the blog at @NewsToLiveBy. – See more at: Damn Right I’m Part of the “Me Me Me” Generation.
Join the Conversation
8 Distinguished Trophies Millennials Deserve to Win at Work
Thanks for all the comments, Stephanie. And I enjoyed the video. Your ‘team first’ mentality will be a boon for any company that gets you (or has you now).
To explain my blog post about trophies…the entire piece is a plea to stop acting like we need trophies for every little thing. It’s a parody to prove my point (and yours). I would like to think young people would read it and realize how silly they are for needing a pat on the back all the time. I also recognize our generation like to read stuff that’s upbeat and creative (i.e. Buzzfeed).
I suppose I could have profiled someone our age who doesn’t need a trophy for hard work. I’d like to think both approaches would achieve the same end.
Next time I handle the topic, I’ll come to you for a quote! 🙂
I’d be honored to provide a quote. And please don’t think I didn’t find the article funny – I do! My friend and I are just sick of millennials being negatively stereotyped. It’s exhausting to constantly have to deal with the fact that even when I have always shown up on time, worked hard and put my team first I somehow still get pegged as a self-centered millennial. Thanks for allowing me an outlet to vent a bit! I don’t even think you need to profile someone who doesn’t need a trophy because that would be, well, giving them a trophy! hahah
Haha good point. No profiles of Millennials doing things the right way. We can just let people see through our actions.
As we discussed on Twitter you think this blog has an “action” aspect where you’re trying to inspire change. Where exactly is that? Because I’m not seeing it. All I see is you perpetuating a negative stereotype about our generation.
What’s hard is through most of our school years, millennials have been told to work harder, be better, do more, and achieve bigger things. When we graduate we’re hit with a lot of conflicting messages. We’re always encouraged to be our own person and not let anyone tell us otherwise. We’re pushed to stand out, be the best and stay motivated 100% of the time. The conflict arises when we graduate and we’re suddenly told to calm down and not get too excited and just simply do the work we’re given.
A great blog would be one that reminds millennials the merit in being humble and modest. You’re absolutely right in saying that we’re the “trophy generation.” So let’s change that! Let’s inspire a group of millennials who don’t expect to be rewarded for every little thing and are simply proud of doing good work. Because believe it or not there are plenty of millennials who are punctual, helpful, loyal, and have the grit to stick things out. You just don’t hear about them because they’re not asking to be recognized.
Finally, I agree with “Team-first over me-first. Don’t need credit for a job well done. Be grateful rather than entitled.” So let’s promote that! Check out this video of my journey to “team-first” leadership. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=md-s8WCjGIw