Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Generation Y in the workplace

Generation Y, or Post 80's generation, is often a topic my friends and I (who belong to Generation X) passionately, head-shakingly discuss. 

I am not a sociologist, or anthropologist, so I won't even bother justifying my explanation of their unique behavior in the workplace.  Just want to share some funny discussions here for a laugh!

My friends and I are largely people managers/ team leaders, and people we work with largely belong to Generation Y.  We often find them lack of direction and purpose in life and career, quite egocentric, not very willing to conform to established formalities, like to feel that they are individualistic but without clear individual edge, very easily distracted/ short attention span, think it is uncool to take things too seriously (think it is cool to appear laid back), take everything including opportunities for granted, lack of perseverance, lack of motivation to progress and shine, over-reliant on technology, lack of confidence in human interaction (face-to-face communication, phone communication).....and the list goes on.

When talking to a colleague some staff evaluation of supervisors (360 degrees evaluation), my colleague told me one of her sub-ordinates had the nerve to write, as area for improvement for her:  _______ is not considerate, when she leaves the office she turns off the aircon for her work section.  Another sub-ordinate wrote: __________ needs to hire more proficient manager.  I don't think my manager is good enough.  I laughed out loud when I read her message!  Come on, kids, be a bit professional!  Don't write such juvenile comments!

When having dinner with some ex-colleagues, we discussed why Generation Y don't seem to learn from their mistakes.  If you watch over their shoulders, they call you nagging and not giving them freedom.  If you give them freedom, they abuse it by either not taking prompt actions as necessary, or they make big decisions - often times without thorough thinking and consideration of longer term consequences - without informing you.  Then someone raised a funny point:
When we were their age, after being scolded by our bosses or making a big mistake at work, during the time we traveled to and from office each day, we would reflect on what we had done wrong, why our bosses had scolded us.  Nowadays, Generation Y spend their traveling time finger swiping on their iPhones, iPod touch, playing games.  There are all these distractions for them to forget they had been scolded by their bosses!  That's why they don't learn!
So true! Ha ha!!

Managing and trying to motivate Generation Y can be a university course on its own.  I really hope these kids will miraculously grow up overnight and feel "cool" about being mature and professional.  At the same time there needs to be more updated people management trainings targeted to management of Generation Y as they clearly need to be motivated and managed differently.

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