What’s Remarkable About Gen Y at Work?

I asked this question about what people find remarkable about Gen Y at work, on LinkedIn, and sparked some interesting discussions about how Boomer managers react to younger workers (Gen Y or Millenials). I know for myself, a Boomer and parent, I have my own opinions coming from my own generational perspective and experiences. (Photo by Vlado, freedigitalphotos.net)

And I’m trying to understand other view points. I’m writing a book and exploring ideas on how leadership should be adapting to the changing workforce, one that’s increasingly being affected by age diversity.

I’m sharing some of the more interesting LinkedIn responses here to provoke more discussion and comments. Perhaps you have a different perspective? Feel free to join the conversation by commenting.

LinkedIn Question: What’s remarkable about Gen Y?

Jacque Biddulph, Owner, Red Shoes Presenting Coaching and Training

I think what is remarkable is their confidence and willingness to get on with proactive action— maybe they are not “held back” by their own limiting beliefs and their past. I find them exciting and open to new possibilities.

My response to Jacque:

Thanks, Jacque.

For a Boomer like me, the term that I hear most often is relevance. How do I stay relevant in a changing world, and how do I stay open to the possibilities rather than be defined by limits.

So my question back to you is, are they wide open because they don’t know that they have limitations?

Could you tell me how you interact with the different generations? Do you have a great story that you are willing to tell about that interaction?

Thanks so much… Chip

Jacque’s response:

Interestingly, Chip, I currently do not manage them directly but I do a lot of work with people who do and in workshops, I find that when the Gen Y people are there, they are very open to new ideas and are much more willing to critically think and question.

I think they are aware of some limitations but it is my sense that they are not too worried by them, whereas I think us Baby Boomers still hang on to a lot. I tend to hear “complaints” from the BB who are managing them, who I think feel threatened and uncomfortable by the confidence of Gen Y…many are frightened to hand over control and allow the Y’s to try things in new ways.


Chip’s response:

Threatened? Hmm. That is a great way to think about it. I haven’t thought about it in that way before, but much like the Traditionals were threatened as the Boomers came of age: (TURN DOWN THAT AWFUL MUSIC!)

We are reentering a youth oriented culture, and this time the Boomers are not “the youth” that are being referred to. That becomes scarier on a lot of levels.

As much as we want our bodies to do the things we did when we were 18, they don’t. As much as we want to experience life in the way that we did, we can’t. And although different may be better or worse depending on your perspective, it is different. And can be scary.

And then here comes a generation that looks a lot like us when we were kids. They share a lot of the same traits, but they aren’t afraid. And that is just plain scary, because we remember when we weren’t afraid either.

If we define FEAR as False Evidence Appearing Real, think how Boomer angst plays into our feelings about Gen Y.

We didn’t ever want to become our parents…but didn’t we become them?  Aren’t we the ones to shake our heads and mutter something about “these kids” or “this generation”?

And isn’t that the basis of fear? How can Boomer managers stay open and nonjudgmental and provide the best support and guidance?

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