respect in the workplaceEveryone wants to be invited to “the table,” the one where big ideas are discussed and important decisions are made. And today, many Millennials are trying to figure out how to get there.

A few days after I started my first full-time job, I remember walking by the conference room while other co-workers were meeting with the CEO to discuss ideas for an upcoming project. I remember walking back to my desk thinking, “I’d give anything to be in that room right now. Why wasn’t I invited? Do my ideas and opinions even matter to them?”

If there’s one thing that Millennials want more than anything else, it’s to be trusted and respected by the people we work with, both our peers and our bosses. We want others to believe we are the right people to get the job done. We want to have a voice at the table and provide ideas that are acted upon by the organizations in which we work.

However, as a generation that is stereotyped as being “entitled,” we must remember that trust and respect are things that have to be earned. They aren’t just given.

So how do we earn our way to the table?

7 Ways Millennials Can Earn Trust and Respect in the Workplace

Here are seven ideas that can help us earn the trust and respect of those we work with (and for) every day:

  1. Honor people’s time. Whether we’re meeting with a co-worker or the CEO of the company, get in the habit of showing up early and finishing on time. One of the quickest ways to lose the respect of others is to disrespect their time.
  1. Come to the table with solutions, not just ideas. This is crucial. Every idea we have should move a project or task towards completion, not away from it.
  1. Take good notes. One thing my first boss always told me was that I should always show up to a meeting with something to write with and something to write on. Write down things you don’t want to forget, including ideas you want to hold onto and lessons you learn from observing other leaders.
  1. Learn how to anticipate. The more we can anticipate how our superiors are going to respond to a certain situation, the more effective we will be. If possible, always be one step ahead. Do something every day you weren’t “asked” or “told” to do, but know you should do.
  1. Be a disciplined learner. While we might be trying to find our ultimate career path, it’s important to understand it’s our role to be an expert, no matter what level we might find ourselves in an organization.
  1. Work to create corporate culture, not just consume it. Even at the “bottom of the totem pole,” we can help set the standard in our organizations, rather than just reflecting it. Look for ways to set a positive tone for your team or within the organization. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer.
  1. Be a servant. Granted, this is much easier said than done and requires a different perspective. However, if we truly want to make an impact in the workplace, it must come from a humble posture rather than one of prideful thinking and conceit.

If we want to make an impact in the workplace, we must work to build trust and cultivate respect from our peers and bosses. If we want to make it to the table, we have to earn our way there.

Millennials: What are some lessons you’ve learned when it comes to earning trust and respect in the workplace?


Other Generations: What are some other things we can do to earn a seat at the table?