Jul 13, 2008

Love Generation

Baby Boomers have been noted for their love and involvement with Generation Y. Termed ‘Helicopter Parents’ (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article3734696.ece) Baby Boomer parents have developed a ‘love blanket’ for their children. Generation Y have grown up on praise. Every (Gen Y) child is a winner according to their parent (watch the reaction if anything is suggested to the contrary), and is taught they are able to make a difference in their own right. Gen Y grew up on compliments and validations as if it were oxygen. Any surprises, then, that they come across as a little over-confident? Enter Gen Y into the world of work… they see managers or Managing Directors about the age of their parents and expect the same acknowledgements will come. But, alas, there is money involved now. With nobody to validate their achievements – as generally they will be living away from home – and nobody to nurse their wounds if they are criticized, or to go back to their ‘teachers’ (managers/ boss) to challenge feed-back. So… they went ‘Online’. In search of likeminded individuals with whom to share their grief. Generation Y are notoriously bad at being internal processors – they externalize their feelings, and express in digital language! They talk online. No fears about sharing company information, there is no pride involved – just an expression of the injustice to them – and so within a few moments they perceive the grass to be greener somewhere else. Unfettered and disenchanted they move, to realize the same is true in ‘pastures green’ after all. But… the information is still out there – it forms a record in the online world and a reputation begins to develop. An exponential reputation. Information is published, shared, discussed, linked and noted. It becomes… like a ‘truth’. In some senses it is a truth - an ethnographic account of what happened from an individual’s point of view, just… expressed differently to the (Baby Boomer and X) generations before them.

So, what (if anything) can we learn in the middle of all this hype, subjectivity, pride and (essentially) just another point in time? Crucially, no judgment of any other Generation. Allow for individualism. I have been asked, “will Gen Y’s just become like Gen X’s and Baby Boomers eventually?” ‘If some Boomers have resignedly become the organization men and women they once mocked, others have unleashed innovative and entrepreneurial energies that in the long run may provide enough growth and opportunity for them to realize their dreams after all…’ (TIME Magazine, 1986).

So, that depends… on you (as a Baby Boomer managing X and Y’s; X-er in the middle; Y responding to Baby Boomers and X-ers).

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