Advice for Millennial Nurses

By Veesart, Amanda | American Nurse Today, April 2018 | Go to article overview

Advice for Millennial Nurses


Veesart, Amanda, American Nurse Today


* How do you become a great leader in a multigenerational workplace?

GENERATIONAL differences have been a popular topic for years, generating many articles and books. The first generational definition dates back to the 1950s when Mannheim published an article defining generations as groups of people who were born and raised in the same chronological years. Since then, many authors have published on generational core values, the differences concerning core values of each generation, and the challenges between generations.

Recently, the focus has been on the impact of generational differences in the workplace. Millennial nurses entered the nursing workforce about 20 years ago and have been a topic among healthcare organizations ever since. The literature is saturated with ideas, strategies, and solutions for recruiting and retaining Millennial nurses. However, little literature or guidance exists on how to become a nurse leader if you're a Millennial. Understanding the impact of common Millennial characteristics in the workplace is the first step to becoming an effective leader. Many Millennials have significantly different workplace needs, skills, and expectations from previous generations.

As a Millennial leader myself, I'd like to share tips for how those of our generation can become successful workplace leaders.

Welcome to a workplace that doesn't understand you

Although some Millennial core values are similar to those of other generations (for example, morality and civic duty are reflective of the Veterans generation and work-life balance is similar to Generation X), the ones that differ can make Millennials seem like spoiled, unsatisfied brats. For example, the most common characteristic used to describe Millennials in the workforce is "job hopper." Research shows that most Millennials seek a job that offers flexibility, recognition, innovation, and an opportunity to make an impact on the world, and they're willing to move from one place to another to find it. Although changing jobs can boost your skills, other generations in the workplace may view it negatively, seeing frequent change as a lack of commitment.

The first step to overcoming stereotypes about the Millennial generation is knowing that these differences are sometimes misunderstood. And it's good to keep in mind that nurses of all generations--not just Millennials--face challenges and misconceptions by others in the workplace.

Understanding the misunderstandings

Here are some common statements or questions you can expect when pursuing a leadership role:

* You're not old enough, and you haven't put in your time to take on a leadership role.

* You're always looking for a different way to do things. Why do you want to change what we've always done?

* You seem to have more interest in leaving work early to go have fun versus staying to work extra hours. Why aren't you more loyal?

* You want to move up the career ladder too quickly and if you don't, you'll leave.

* You always want to make things more efficient by adding technology.

* You grew up in the era when everyone got a trophy, so you always expect to win.

* You want more money but you don't want to work for it, so you're a job hopper.

The good news about these statements is that most leaders, not just Millennials, have heard one or more applied to them, so the intent behind the comment probably isn't personal. However, the comments may feel personal and can create tension in the workplace. Embrace each comment as a misunderstanding of core values, and don't assume everyone holds or appreciates the same values as you. This doesn't give someone permission to belittle you, but most of these types of comments are the result of misinterpretation of intentions or poor communication.

Tips for Millennials on becoming a great leader

Use these tips to help you succeed on your path to becoming a nurse leader. …

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