I am a member of Generation X. We are a generation that is coming into our primes socially, politically, in our careers, and our earning potential. And we are not the youngest in the workplace anymore. Generation Y has made it's appearance over the past 5 to 10 years.
To set the stage, here is a short description of each of these generations:
- Generation X: born in between 1965-1980, this generation is very independent and individualistic, we are technically adept, we adapt well to change, and work to live rather than our parent's live to work mentality.
- Generation Y: born in the 80's, this generation is tech savvy to a point of preferring email and messaging to face-to-face communication, they are more family centric, have strong confidence, have a need to be included and involved, and require praise and reassurance.
Generation Y is smart and quick to pick up technology and expects achievement in all areas, so once they develop more andragogically they will be a force to be reckoned with. The biggest hurdle for them will be the groundwork they are laying for themselves now, early in their careers. The most difficult part of my dealings with Generation Y is regardless of their little experience in the workplace, they still have a strong sense of entitlement, they also have a lack of professionalism and little respect for politics.
This is my blog, so I can say whatever I want, right? Let me first say that I have met some very brilliant and incredible Gen Y'ers, so not all of you are typical of this generalization. But here is my advice for the bulk of you:
Your sense of entitlement is absurd. From what I've read, this stems from the concept of "everyone wins" and baseball games where you don't keep score. What?!? Growing up I knew who the smart kids were and who the less smart kids were, I knew who was going to get the blue ribbon in little olympics (not me) and who was going to win the spelling bee. I've literally heard, "I've been here longer, so I should get the office/promotion/title". I've wanted to scream, "THEY HAD 14 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE AT 4 DIFFERENT COMPANIES BEFORE YOU GRADUATED COLLEGE!", (I think I did scream it once at some girl and scared her half to death... whatev). Gen Y Newsflash: not everyone wins and you will lose sometimes. Also, people will rank you and you will have to compete to be ranked higher. You don't GET respect, promotions, raises, and opportunities, you EARN them. That takes intelligence, of course. But also experience and time. Get them and we can talk.
Your lack of professionalism now will follow you around forever. Don't dress more casually than the other people you work with, it makes you look sloppy and lazy. We may know what you mean when you use emoticons and text speak in emails, but when used excessively we think you don't care and don't know any better. Punctuate, capitalize, don't say ciao and other cutesy phrases. Last, and there are exceptions to all of these, don't be fake, too loud, too giggly, stupid (real or fake), or lazy. Don't put your feet on the desk, don't order 2 drinks at lunch, don't look hungover, and don't high five too often. You may not care about all of this, but the people that control the money and promotions do. And they are talking about you. I promise.
Your disregard of politics is hurting your potential. "But QueenB, the VP and I have a lot in common." No, you don't. They got where they are because they are good with all people, not just you. And you have just made everyone between you and the VP roll their eyes at your naivety. "But QueenB, I'm helping everyone by speaking my mind." Yes, but you are still about 72% idiot. Just kidding... but really, before you spout opinions make sure you know something about it. Don't give another department criticism or advice on how they should run themselves unless you've worked in it and understand the political, financial, legal, and HR ramifications of what you want to say. "But QueenB, I read this Seth Godin book and I totally see what we have to do." I love idealism, but you have to have your feet on the ground too. That means being realistic. You will never create utopia anywhere and the grass is never greener. You SHOULD read things and be inspired, but realize that change takes time, work, strong leaders, passion, and an ability to execute. Ummm... you aren't all that, so you're going to need a lot of help from others or time to become all that. Sorry to burst your balloon, but better now than when your balloon becomes annoying to people. You can have your balloon back when you are older...