I am Generation Y and proud. I’m materialistic, ambitious, technology savvy, intelligent, quick-witted, occasionally whiney, occasionally lazy (more on this later), demanding and easily bored.
(image by Sarah Tier.. I’m the one in the middle)
As I study for my exams, the real essay I want to write has nothing to do with Motorola’s expansion in China and their flawed marketing strategies but to do with practicing business in the real world as a member of generation Y.
I wouldn’t have thought it important however it’s regularly brought to my attention that I’m in this generation by my superiors whenever I mention my goals, present a business case for improvements to the technology in the office etc…. And it’s really starting to piss me off.
A person who shall remain nameless, recently commented that all generation y’s are too focused on ladder climbing and titles. It wasn’t said with maliciousness but it also certainly wasn’t meant to be a compliment. My response: so we’re ambitious and driven… where is the problem?
Their response to my response would most likely include a discussion of something about how you need to learn the skills and expertise required to do the roles we keep asking for so soon etc etc… the thing is, that’s fine! We’re all happy to learn those things!! Teach us faster then! We learn faster than any other generation, we are more able to find our way through problems than previous generations and we look for a challenge. What irks me is that while they wont promote us due to the above reasons they also call us lazy. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy in this? We’re lazy because we are easily bored and need challenges, we need to learn things and be swamped with responsibilities and although we may fail on a few things, generally we will rise to the occasion if for no other reason than to live up to the expectation that we are also boastful!
And with regard to our materialism – specifically with regard to technology, the same nameless person also made a comment to me about how all updates to technology are un-necesary and even if we did update some we don’t need the most current fancy versions and how this was all so gen y of me. My response to this is that the suggestion that we’re materialistic is in the eye of the beholder in this scenario. Updates to technology are simply how businesses can survive in this day and age. Also the other comment that came through in this discussion was that businesses in the past have been very successful without these new gadgets. This to me is like saying that innovation is unnecessary and that we shouldn’t have bothered with email, it made no difference, snail mail worked just fine. How ridiculous! Look at the productivity figures! Look at the economy, look at the competitive advantage companies who invest in technology develop over their backwards thinking competitors. If a business today refuses to improve the technology based on the fact its recommended by a person born within a certain period of years, I’d recommend to them that they also employ a psycic and start making business decisions based on their personal horoscopes; the effect would be the same! Further, I would argue we’re actually less materialistic than our preceding generations who stayed employed with one company, simply to acquire a gold watch! At least we want these new gadgets to improve our own productivity and for the benefit of the company, a gold watch just means a few seconds less of said employee turning their head away from the pile of paper their shuffling through.
The final comment which was the icing on the cake for me referred to the lack of loyalty to a company and why make the investment when all these people leave so quickly. My response: I can buy my own watches, and why would I stay when your business provides no challenge to me, refuses to promote me, has clearly little interest in taking risks and gaining more market share or being a forerunner in their field if it means anything other than conventional ideas. I can go elsewhere and at least the learning curve of a new job will entertain until yet again the same process repeats itself or until the insecure upper management relents and realizes that we’re not there to take their jobs, were there to provide insight, a fresh set of eyes, invigorate and excite our co-workers, inspire innovation, keep people on their toes, and keep businesses moving forward in line with the rest of the world.
It’s duly noted that this rant was a bit whiney and that some of these generalizations negative implications are true to a few members of our lot. Still, it should be also noted that all previous gens, and gens to come will have their respective number of black sheep.