The response to the last issue of Light Reading, ‘Getting’ Gen Y from A to Z, has been interesting. Many Gen Yers said the descriptions rang true. The common theme was a realization that they need to work on their follow-up and listening skills. Maybe some of them will take up the ‘No Excuses’ mantra.
Some Boomers and Xers appreciated the background information and said the column helped them realize they are not alone with their challenges. A few even detailed how they would adjust their approach to be more flexible and accommodating to Gen Yers.
However, some of the responses were flat out disturbing. Some Boomers said they felt vindicated and that Gen Y was ‘all messed up.’ One Boomer said Gen Yers all have a ridiculous sense of entitlement and that they better shape up or else. Others talked about ways to change policies to fix the communication problems.
Once I moved past the initial ‘shock and awe’ of these comments, I took a deep breath and decided I’d better let these folks know they are missing the point.
The hope was that by providing some insight into Generation Y the rest of us could adapt to reduce the impact of the generational gap. We are all a product of our environment and impacted by the cultural events of our formative years. However, each individual responds to these cultural influences in their own way. To think that every Gen Yer has all the characteristics used to describe the entire generation is ridiculous. Managing as if that were the case and implementing more formal policies and procedures will work about as well as it did on the Boomers.
Isn’t that just common sense? You would think. But, like my Dad used to say: “Common sense isn’t as common as you’d think it would be.” He also stressed patience (and still does since his efforts in this area have not quite paid off with me yet) and the importance of judging people as individuals—on their actions, not their appearances, bank statements or other stereotypes.
Hmm, good advice. Two points for the so-called Silent Generation.