As I noted yesterday, understanding what makes Gen Y tick is key to learning how to work with and manage people from this generation — roughly those born after 1980.
Now I generally shy away from generalizations about big groups of people. But in this case, as I read articles about Gen Y workers, the same points came up over and over, whether the author was a Baby Boomer or of the Gen Y generation herself.
On the positive side, Gen Y’rs have a reputation for their optimism, their facility with technology, and their desire to keep work and “life” separate (due in part to the fact that only 60 percent of them grew up with both parents). They prefer people being direct (as opposed to being subtle) and like to take action on issues. They tend to be skeptical about conformity and comfortable with taking risks. In fact, they can be downright adventurous. And they like to get their information quickly, often in the course of performing awesome feats of multi-tasking.
Gen Yrs also tend to be confident and comfortable expressing themselves — in ways that can sometimes make a bad impression on Boomers. According to a Pew Research Center report released last February, for instance, one in five Gen Yrs have posted a video of themselves on-line. Four in ten have a tattoo; another one in four have a piercing somewhere other than on their ear lobe. (Are you squirming? That’s a generation gap thing!) More to the point, they are independent thinkers and tend to be very, very entrepreneurial.
And now here’s some of the not-so-great stuff about this generation. Because they spend five to seven hours a day in front of screens (be they computers or TVs), they tend to be slightly disengaged. And because they are widely considered to be the most coddled, hovered over, rewarded generation ever, they are rumored to have a not-so-pleasant attitude of entitlement, even as they may not be all that great at working on their own. And the flip side of that fabled multi-tasking ability, as most of us know, is a kind of fractured attention span that can make it hard to focus on big or complicated projects.
Also, they have long hair, wear weird bell-bottomed pants, and keep talking about peace and love. Nah…not really. Just kidding.
Stay tuned for: Responding to the Gen Y Worker