Weighing in on this generational thing

Cover of "The Global Achievement Gap: Why...

Cover via Amazon

As a member of Generation Y , I have to admit that the conversation about generational differences never really intrigued me that much growing up.  Up until a few years ago, other than my family, teachers, and professors, I had been almost exclusively surrounded by my peers of the generation, so I had yet to really witness the tension between my generation and others.  I learned about it school but like many things, until you really see it, it doesn’t mean much.

In the past year I have been asked to weigh in on how generational differences play out in the workplace and in training and development settings.  You might remember my very first blog post for Fireside HR called “Are labels relevant?” where I shared an example of where this came up.  So, while I appreciated people’s sentiment that I would be an expert in my own generation, I thought I should seek to better understand my own generation from both an insider and an outsider’s perspective.

I thought I would summarize some of the interesting ideas and information I discovered.  You can take it all with a grain of salt, and of course, I’ve sourced it.  At the very least, it makes for interesting discussion.

  • This generation’s brain has literally developed differently as a result of growing up with the internet and other technological advances.  The internet has led to an abundance of information and Gen Yer’s brains have learned to sift through mass amounts of information quickly.  They have also learned to be sceptical and question what they read.
  • Gen Yer’s multitask; this seems to be widely agreed upon.  However, whether or not they are more productive as a result seems to be disputed.
  • This generation has a very different definition of “privacy” than previous generations.  Some people congratulate these people on their transparency and willingness to share.  Others are concerned that people who share too much will regret it later in life.
  • Gen Yer’s expect to move up the career ladder faster than their predecessors.  Understandably, this has seemed to annoy some of those who came before them; many have called the generation entitled (or “the Reality Show Generation”).
  • People in this generation have been coddled by their parents and by educational institutions such that they are not prepared for the work place.  Once again, this is a big area of contention in the literature on the subject.

I obviously have a biased opinion about the work habits and values of my generation, and the interesting ideas that I’ve picked out will reflect that.  So, if you are interested, I’d recommend the sources below (this is the tip of the iceberg).  As a Gen Yer, I’d suggest taking it all in with a healthy degree of scepticism!

Krysty Wideen is a learning and organizational development consultant with The Refinery Leadership Partners, based in Vancouver. Failing to leave her day job at work, she often finds herself relating every day, commonplace observations and activities to insights about leadership, business, human resources, and anything, really. Now she has a place to share her observations and insights.