Archive for May, 2009

Social Citizen’s Top 10. #1: Generation Y v. Millennial a new distinction

Posted on May 14, 2009. Filed under: Top 10 April 2009 | Tags: , , , , |

Originally posted February 4, 2009.

from .Larry Page

from .Larry Page

Last week I attended a training on generations.  The trainer discussed the four generations in the workplace (Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y) and how we can all work with the different work styles.  During the training, the trainer also mentioned another generation, the Millennials.  She described the phenomenon of the division being created between individuals in their 20s and those younger.

She described the two generations as quite similar, but with a few very distinct differences.

Generation Y is tech savvy, optimistic, confident, diverse, individualistic and realistic.  Generation Y doesn’t like to waste time in meetings, loves work/life balance, being effective, and multi-tasking when ever possible.

Millennials, as described by the trainer, are tech savvy, diverse, and individualistic, but this generation seems to have different expectations.  We are seeing kids  wanting something for nothing, putting off work as long as possible, and really being into celebrity.  Think of anyone you know who is a teenager or even younger do they fit any of these characteristics?

Although the division isn’t purely formed yet, I can see what the trainer is talking about.  Although my brother is over 20 I can see distinct differences between his friends and mine.  I also hear from other friends with younger brothers and sisters that they see a difference.  There is a strong difference in work ethic especially.  I’m not necessarily calling the so called Millennials lazy, but the way they work is different.  Everything I do I am thinking about how it will fit into my future plans, how will what I’m doing affect my mission for making a change, will what I’m doing matter.  Right now I don’t feel like my brother and his friends have plans for their lives.  Many his age are going to school just for fun, and thinking they want to be a star chef or superbowl hero instead of getting a steady job.  This is just one example, I am sure there are many more.

What do you think, are you seeing the differences in the two generations?  Do you think the trainer is on to something here?

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Social Citizen’s Top 10. #2: Generation Y, Y are we so difficult?

Posted on May 12, 2009. Filed under: Top 10 April 2009 | Tags: , , , |

Originally posted November 2, 2007.

I was reading a blog today, and they mentioned the Web site Making Business Sense of Generation Y. So, being my Generation Y self I had to check out what the latest Baby Boomer was saying about our Generation. As I was reading the consulting pages and articles written by the owner Amy Lynch, I came to realize that our generation continues to get a bad rap.

I will admit that I sometimes have trouble getting along with Baby Boomers, but they are my parents, mentors and coworkers. I work with individuals of their generation every day and I hope to make our working environment better. We were born in different times and like working with another gender or someone from another ethnicity it is important to find out how each of us works and plan accordingly.

I know I am not the only Generation Yer that feels this way. I know many that are working hard to get ahead, want to work within our organizations and make the professional environment today flow without generational issues.

In Amy Lynch’s article “Managing Generation Y” she describes our Generation:

Raised by Boomer parents on a diet of praise and self-esteem, Millennials are the Next Big Thing, and they know it. They show up to work with lots of answers.

Hierarchy? Only if it helps us get the work done.

Need it yesterday? No problem.

Technology? We eat that #@%! for breakfast.

Which brings us to workplace demeanor. Could use some serious polish.

Millennials multi-task and multi-career. Cross-train them; they call it a reward. Give them four jobs to do at once, and they swim like fish in fast water. Twenty-somethings exude impatience, confidence and ambition; and with the Boomers growing gray, they are our high-speed, high-maintenance future.

She does name some general characteristics of the Generation as a whole, but I feel sarcasm at every step of the way. She goes on to say,

Ready for a nice surprise? Generation Yers are idealistic. They want big-picture purpose. Save the planet, build better cars or create ways people can spend time with their families, and Millennials buy in. They flock to companies where they can feel like “paid volunteers,” joining because something significant is happening there.

Build a first-rate website and lay out clear career paths (Millennials had resumes when they were 8), and you’ll recruit this Internet Generation.

Keeping them is the problem. Having experienced change all their lives, Millennials attend orientation expecting to leave you soon.

I do not want to discredit her whole conversation, because she then goes onto state some suggestions on how to work with our Generation. But I can not help but feel like she is saying that we are the only problem. That Generation Yers are impossible to work with and that we are creating larger issues for organizations and corporations that are trying to stay afloat in today’s economy.

I would like to point out that the Baby Boomers, whom are now complaining about our work habits, are the ones who raised us, Lynch does agree on this. There has to be a solution for us all to work together, we have live together for decades.

After participating in NP2020 with the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, I came to realize that there are an overwhelming number of Generation Y professionals that are in the same boat I am. We are being pegged as not hard working, tech loving, complainers and Baby Boomers tend to write us off. (Side note: there are some Baby Boomers that do not feel this way that I am forunate to know and work with, but it is not the majority)

I only see room from here to grow and work together. Those of us who attended NP2020 are already working on solutions for the future, like developing strong mentoring networks and professional development sessions where all generations are forced together to develop nonprofit solutions and make their organizations better.

The true fact is that generations have been working together in professional settings for decades and a solution should be easy to find. I challenge both generations to stop generalizing and start working on an individual basis. Baby Boomers sit down with a member of Generation Y that you work with and ask them how they feel about their environment. Generation Yers, sit down with your Baby Boomer supervisors and ask them how you can work even better with them in the future.

I hope to see many more large avenues like the NP2020 Conference in the future so that we may have forums with multi-generational bodies to talk about and solve these issues we are having with one another.

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Social Citizen’s Top 10. #3: Lack of Community in the U.S

Posted on May 7, 2009. Filed under: Top 10 April 2009 | Tags: , , |

Originally posted November 20, 2007.

I am leaving for Africa next week to work with World Hope International in Zambia and Vital Communications in Zimbabwe.  Both of these organizations have been working for over a decade to help Africans in these countries to become self-sufficient and strengthen their communities.  The reality is that most of the people in these countries already have a strong sense of community, but just need aid to overcome crisis.

The idea of community has been common place in Africa for a long time.  Individuals in these communities suffering from famine, government turmoil, and AIDS epidemic, have been working together to stay alive for hundreds of years.  The crisis they face daily have pushed them apart, but working together against these crisis they are becoming communities again.

The idea of community, on the other hand, is not common place in the United States.  Most people go to work in their single person car, leave work in their single person car, park their car in a garage and shut all the blinds to make it look like no body is home.  On the weekends they take their single person cars to the grocery store, where they use self-checkout lines, and pick up fast food on the way home.  In larger cities in the United States things have changed a little with public transportation and more people walking, but cellphones and iPods continue to keep everyone at a distance.

These facts trouble me.  I know this isn’t a new thought, we all know that Americans are individuals and neighborly love is a thing of the past, but how to do we fix this.  We can see the crisis of individuality taking over our country and not in a good way.  Small communities have been able to push past this a little more, but the entire country needs to hop on board.  What the solution is I am not sure, but something has to happen.

We cannot go on living the way we do here in the United States.  Big automobile corporations need to turn to producing public transportation again, light rail should be put up in all major cities, community efforts to save energy need to be more prevalent, and community gardens should be grown in every neighborhood.  Heck, China has what 10 times our population and they use approximately a 1/4 of the oil we do.

Maybe I am preaching to the choir, but one more person talking about the crisis is just one more person away from creating the strong communities we need in our society.  Community equals sustainability.  Shane Claiborne, founder of the Simple Way, says “Live simply so that others may simply live.”  His words of wisdom should ring through American’s ears.

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