Look at this poor guy to the right. When you think about Generation Y, is this what you look like? Or, when you are in a presentation, hearing about all of the good, the not so great and the challenges with this new generation, do you find yourself:
- Rolling your eyes
- Having side conversations with your colleagues about their “entitlement” issues
- Sighing…wishing this Generation would just do things the way YOU do them
- Thinking of all of the ugly names you can call Gen Y like lazy, narcissistic and demanding
- Walking out of the room , because you just don’t like what you’re hearing
If so, the Generation Ys in your life may not be the problem…the problem may be YOU!
You may think I am exaggerating about the above bullet list, but I am not. The above six things are what I witness every time I lead a presentation to an audience of Generation Xers and Baby Boomers about our rising generation of leaders, parents and community caretakers…Generation Y OR as they would preferred to be called “The Millennials”. I was even asked one time why they “had to have their own name”. My response: “If you had 3 brothers named “Bill” or even “Bob, Brant and Ben”, would you want to be named Bill just because your older siblings were named something similar?” (Referring to the fact that demographers just gave Generation Y their name because the letter Y follows the letter X). The guy wanted to argue…that this is just one more piece of evidence pointing to the entitlement of Gen Y. But my point is this: “This generation is unique, on a mission to change our messed up world, and wants to be distinguished from other generations, and the belly-aching and complaining is not doing one damn thing to help our communication and relationships at work.”
And to the question of “Do you think Generation Y can take care of our country? I just doubt their capabilities!” My answer is ABSOLUTELY they can. They have learned everything NOT to do from us…their parents and older siblings. Just look at what a great job we all did with creating a recession, running into debt, telling our children they could have ANYTHING or BE ANYTHING. “Oh…honey…of course you can play for the NBA just like Michael Jordan. Just practice, and then we will go buy you the best pair of basketball shoes money can buy…and you will get there!” Only to lead to a big fat bubble being burst wide open once that 15 year old turns 18 or 19 and does not even get recruited to play college basketball.
If you look really closely at this generation…they ARE different. How could they not be? They are constantly dialed in using text, chat, facebook, phone while flipping channels or playing video games. While multi-tasking has been donned a “sin” in our workforce, they do it, and they do it quite well. And guess what…it ain’t goin’ away (and yes…I know that ain’t ain’t a word).
As far as Generation Y being lazy…I beg to differ. I have never seen a generation who so aggressively attacks a project. While the project may look like a tornado at times or not get done like you want it to be executed and while Gen Y may get distracted at times, they have produced some of the most amazing products that we are all now gobbling up like the best dessert we’ve ever eaten. Need I mention Facebook? I guess not…since it has now been taken over by 40-somethings who are suing it to spam me every day to “come to my event”. I could go on and on, talking about things we use every day…like mobile apps, Twitter and some amazing “going green” efforts being led by Gen Y, but I am sure that many people will say “I don’t use those things, and they are just a passing fancy.” Hmmm….time will tell.
The premiere season of Glee starts this week. I cannot WAIT, and 80% of the cast is made up of Gen Ys. If you watch the show, you will see that this is probably the hardest working group of young adults I have seen in my lifetime. They are talented, perfect, in sync…they get it. I bet they work 80 hours a week minimum, and they are bringing music from the past back into our living rooms and the joy and memories that come with it. So, five stars for this brilliant cast of Gen Ys.
So, today, as you walk away from this post, I encourage you to start looking at the bright side of The Millennials. They might just teach you a thing or two like:
- How to be open to Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, Africans and Germans
- How to multi-task the right way
- How to take shortcuts that will give you a BETTER end result
- How to take care of our crumbling environment
- How to NOT take learning for granted
- How to probe, scrutinize and ask questions before you walk into a land mine
And that is my post for today.