My Generation Isn’t What You Say It Is

Recognize This: The management needs of modern employees have changed. Can you manage the way your employees need to be most engaged, productive and successful?

Back to the “generations at work” battle. I’m on record with my belief that GenY is no different, really, than any other generation in what they want out of work – validation that their effort is worthwhile (in that it contributes to the success of others, the company or the community) and a desire to prove themselves, grow and develop in their chosen careers.

However, I do think that the generation debate shows a deep seated change that is occurring all around us in how information flows, ideas are shared, networks are created, influence happens, and like it or not, it's tending to be members of GenY and GenX who are leading the charge. Not only will this impact how companies make decisions and engage (with employees, with customers and with suppliers), but it's also charging the very way our society works. Information flow is now so dynamic and networks so widely dispersed, someday we'll see a government being changed as a consequence of a Facebook campaign.

In a Bnet post, management consultant Stephen Denning put it this way:

“Managers of the 20th century were trained to supervise people to get them to do stuff, to perform tasks. But now that most people are knowledge workers and not semi-skilled workers, we need managers who inspire, motivate, and encourage collaboration – managers, even, who care about the well-being of their employees and strive to make the workplace meaningful. And that’s not a corporate world where the older set is generally comfortable.

“Older set” – chime in. Are you ready for how your company culture can maximize this new world? Are you comfortable inspiring, motivating and encouraging your employees? Do you care about their well-being? Do you work at making their work meaningful for them?

4 comment(s):

At January 03, 2011 8:56 PM, blank said...

Good points, Derek

The sad thing is guess who gets caught in he middle of this adversarial dichotomy - HR

I would be happy to see if a debate actually takes place. At least, it gives hope that one way, it could swing in favour of the new generation of workforce.

In my place, one day the staff realised facebook has been barred. There was nothing to discuss - you know, the my way or the high way kinda culture.

And, I thought the situation sucked for the staff until I heard what staff in Australia endure. Worse still, down there they don't even have internet access except for a small window of 1 hour - from a single commmon station.

I guess, you have to take the 'developed" nationhood with a pinch of salt.

At January 04, 2011 9:46 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Sadly, blank, you make a good point. Good arguments can be made for and against blocking Facebook (though I can't imagine a situation where disallowing all internet access makes sense, especially in an office environment), but choosing to block it clearly makes the statement that you don't trust your staff.

Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg for digital media innovations that will change how we work forever. Companies can choose to try to ignore these changes, but they do so at their peril.

At January 04, 2011 10:45 PM, Anonymous said...

I want recognition, not some fussy bonus thing once every year or two but simple, frequent "Thanks, that was great and it really mattered!" I want to see some understanding that I have a life outside work that is more important to me than some new fancy title. I want to work where I'm not expected to check my personality at the door and be a cog. I want to get out of this silly face-time model and, as I did in a previous job, use social media for virtual presence so I can work from anywhere. I want to be treated like the trustworthy, professional, hard-working grownup that I am. I'm a 56 year old gen Y and agree with you that generations aren't so different. At least some boomers aren't at all uncomfortable with the new working world. We're all changing together while leadership models aren't keeping up. The fact that senior leaders aren't usually 20-somethings might lead one to attribute their problems to all boomers, but that may not be accurate.

At January 05, 2011 8:06 AM, Derek Irvine said...

Brilliant, Anonymous. You have just inspired a blog post in the near future. I couldn't have said it better myself. We (the pundits) try to assign specific attributes to people based on the years in which they were born. How silly is that?