Part IV: "Guess how much I love you?" – Gen Y v Gen X and Baby boomers.
I can’t help it… I was going to write another blog tonight, but was given this book from my kids to read tonight and couldn’t resist.
“Guess how much I love you” is a charming little tale of a little Nutbrown hare and his older, bigger, wiser friend Big Nutbrown Hare. It does sound a little sucky really, and the language is simple and easy, the kind that is easy to read to my kids, and fun to hear them recite. Hit “play” above and you’ll see what I mean.
However, my take on this tail..oops I mean tale is based around the generation gap between Gen Y, and Gen X/Baby Boomers. It may be a long bow.. but a lesson to be learned anyway. No offense meant to those Gen Yers reading it.
Little Nutbrown Hare (our poster boy for Gen Y), needs to communicate with Big Nutbrown Hare’s (Gen Xer) and needs his undivided attention. He needs it so much he grabs his ears… .ouch! Why? He has a question, which will both try to suck up as well as try to prove he is smarter that his more experienced counterpart.
Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare, spends most of the book trying to out shine his older, larger counterpart. Trying to out jump and out think his more experienced mentor.
“I love you as high as I can jump” said Little Nutbrown Hare
“But I love you as high as I can jump” said Big Nutbrown Hare, almost hitting his ears on the tree branch.
How did I get the generation battle out of this?
I deal a lot with Gen Ys, and whilst I think the whole, “they are so much different to the rest of the workforce and thus need to be managed differently” mantra is a little over cooked, there definitely are truths.
You need to be prepared to both hear and listen to them. They are surrounded with information, so much more than most of us were when we started our careers, and they aren’t afraid the share it. You cannot fear it, shun it or ignore it. It is there. You have to follow Big Nutbrown Hare’s attitude. Listen to them, and if they are not right, or their idea is not so new or ground breaking, tell them. Bluntly, yet nicely, encourage allow them to keep thinking.
One of the proudest things I have been involved with over the last year was our Industry Based Learning Student. He arrived at our company wanting to run the world, requesting responsibility, people reporting to him etc… When he gave his presentation at the end of his tenure, he outlined that one of his biggest takeaways from this was the fact that he now knows, what he doesn’t know. (and I believe an increased level of respect that others already working may know a thing or two). There was a lot of work done in the middle.
Whilst you cannot discount Gen Y’s, you cannot build an organisation around just that demographic. You will need experience to get through the current climate, you need battle scars, people who have survived downturns in the past, and you need mentors for those entering the workforce. I think now is going to be more important than ever. We are going to have people entering the workforce, already confused as to their part in this world.
Gen Y’s have gone through university with a certain feeling of entitlement, there was a skills shortage remember, the war for talent was well and truly underway. Their career was already mapped out, one company as a stepping stone to the other, 20% increase min each new company, companies falling over themselves to hire them. Now, the world of 2009. Graduate programs getting scrapped, wages getting frozen, job losses everywhere… how did we get this surplus of people? (Recruiters must have been doing one hell of a job!) Their picture of self must have been challenged greatly.
It is not the time for employers to get too excited and get even with the talent market, no matter how tempting it is. We still need to nurture the talent of tomorrow, we still have to keep the stars of today and respect the greats of yesterday. Maybe this new world post 2009 will get rid of these tags, and will work together as survivors of 2009… until the next generation comes along that is.
Now, when I was a boy……….