Browsing articles tagged with " GenY"

Are We Too Unfair to Gen Y Team Mates?

Nov 24, 2010   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Generations, Professional Development  //  10 Comments

Brent Green, author of Marketing to Boomers, has a blog entry that analyzes (or is it attacks) a 60 Minutes segment on Generation Y in the workplace.  His entry, Boomer Bosses, Generation Y Employees, is scathing in its response:

A representative Safer observation:

“Faced with new employees who want to roll into work with their iPods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday, companies are realizing that the era of the buttoned down exec happy to have a job is as dead as the three-Martini lunch.”

This flip of a journalistic middle finger at a young generation is not new. Boomers were often criticized during their ascendance into adulthood, when the young, determined and idealistic were hell-bent on changing the nation’s social realities. (As well documented by Professor Leonard Steinhorn, that determination eventually helped the nation become far more socially and economically inclusive for women, for racial minorities and for people thought as odd when compared to the narrow strictures of 1950’s value consensus.)

I have actually seen the “roll into work with their iPods and flip flops around noon, but still be CEO by Friday” attitude with my team members.  My perception on this attitude is that if there is anyone slammed by this it is the Boomer society that raised these workers.  So while Green believes that expressing such fatigue at a generation that has different social norms than the previous generation is a commentary on that generation, I believe it is a commentary on the previous generation.

Flip flops?  I hate them at work — not because they are casual, but because they are annoyingly noisy.  They remind me of dorm days, listening to other students make their way to the communal showers.  Now dorm rooms have private ensuites, so I’m betting flip flops are worn everywhere other than the shower.  I’m showing my Boomer age by saying that I will always feel these items of apparel belong at home, at the beach, and never anywhere else.   I’m just a crusty old Boomer, I guess.

Rolling in around noon?  Did that Gen Y worker spend 4 hours on a phone call to India starting at midnight?  Did he stay up until 11 PM working on a new set of code?  Or was he in the World of Warcraft form the time he left work until 15 minutes before his noon arrival?  We don’t know and it could be any or all of those options.  What I do know is that manager who want to judge productivity solely by a 9 to 5 clock will stop getting all that extra work time out of Gen Yers (and Boomers) if they stick to such a poor measure of effort and accomplishment.

However, that Gen Yer may have had a 9:30 AM meeting with a Boomer business user who waited until 9:45 before giving up and vowing to never agree to meet the Gen Yer again.  The Boomer did this because the Gen Y worker expected to be forgiven for not showing up because she had a good reason.  She didn’t think to call to let the Boomer know that he wasn’t going to make it because she sent a text message to the Boomer instead.  But the Boomer had (politely) turned off his cell phone for the meeting.  A mis-match of communication methods led by a generational difference in expectations.

Wanting to be CEO by Friday?  Maybe a week from Friday.  This is the one thing that I’m going peg on the Boomer society.  Not Mr. Rogers.  If Mr. Rogers was able to skew the outlook of an entire generation, world wide, then it is a sad commentary on the parents that allowed a TV character to form the entire foundation of their kids outlook on work, life, and getting ahead.  Yes, Fred Rogers said that “you are special”, but parents should have been saying that, too, with the proper context of how the world actually works.  If millions of kids had only Fred and Mr. Speedy Delivery to form their tiny minds, why is that the kids’ fault?  Or a Boomer Boss’s fault to judge the appropriateness of this generation’s workplace behaviours?

It’s not wrong for Boomer Bosses to observe this generation’s differing approaches to work or even to personally be annoyed by it.  What is wrong is for us to try to force our outdated view of the world onto people living and inheriting the world we made for them.  That’s where the outrage ought to be focused.

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