GenYers by A. Woz

Have you heard anything like this lately?

  • A co-worker tells his boss that the young man sitting out in the lobby waiting for an interview has brought his mother along and wants mom to go on the tour of the facility.
  • Just this week someone is fired because after two years, her work product still has too many errors.  Six months prior in a performance review where the manager spells out very clearly the accuracy and attention to detail needed to dramatically improve,  she seems unfazed, unconcerned and proves unable to train herself to double check her work before she passes it to the next party.
  • A neighbor calls to say she is worried about her son who works part-time and then spends the rest of his time playing video games and going to the gym.  When chided by dad to turn off the game station and pitch in with laundry and dishes, the son gently reassures his father that he probably wouldn’t have time for that as he knows he will soon be hired at a new place where management will treat him with respect and pay him what he is worth.
  • The new hire at your brother’s office is always late. Even though there is a big project due mid-day, the new guy leaves for a kick-boxing class over lunch hour and then looks surprised when HR requested that future forward he is to shower and change out of sweaty clothes before returning to his desk.

Does this seem hard to believe?

Prepare yourself for these and more incredulous moments if you are hiring a Generation Y worker.

And brace yourself if you are a parent shouldering the blame for creating this generation of why-should-I-work-hard-for-you workers.

Since when has putting child-rearing as a top priority been a bad thing?

Since Generation X grew up I guess.

Relax,  it isn’t just the endless activities, the effort to build confidence, the willingness to adapt to umpteen scheduled activities that has caused the uproar.

Its all of that plus the incredible intelligence and worldliness of Generation Y’s experience with global technical and constant need for communication that has taught them to focus largely on short term rewards and to look out for themselves above all others.

After all,  isn’t “short-term” exactly how we treat the environment, the market, the entertainment that we consume on a daily basis?

Bruce Tulgan, author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy believes globalization and technology has shaped Gen Y’ers into young adults who seek to maximize the tangible benefits and the connections to people in power from the short time they are working in unstable institutions with uncertain futures.

Knowing industry is ever-changing, outpaced, out-dated and aware that today’s cutting edge is likely tomorrow’s old Facebook look, Gen Yers question authority, command an ever-present access to accurate research via technology and have mastered the short term goal of focusing their brilliant ideas and earning their trophies.

Generation Y children are born between 1978 and 1990. In Tulgan’s words, “Generation Y is like Generation X on-fast-forward-with-self-esteem-on-steroids….parents have guided, directed, supported, coached, and protected…and structured.”

Not surprisingly, most Gen Y employees report that they love their parents, trust them, and will continue to seek advice from them even from the workplace cubicle via the ever present cell-phone and- if you are willing- they will bring them in to work or have their parents call you to clarify your needs, without any of that debilitating embarrassment factor!

Yes, bosses report more and more that mom and dad are calling to inform employers of the gifts of Susie Q and sometimes chide them for expecting too many hours at the workplace.

But, be aware that Gen Yers are loyal to mom but will not transfer that goodwill to a boss unless the boss earns it.

Weak managers, managers who don’t make time to oversee every detail of training and cheerleading, managers who aren’t seeking new ideas, and supervisors who are unable to reward workers with flexibility or monetary reward tied to competition driven projects will not get any of the loyalty or the work output they want from Gen Y.

It is expected that this group of Generation Y workers is very capable of carrying traditional companies -kicking and screaming-  into the highly volatile but profitable marketplace of the millennium- and presumably they can do this without having mom or dad in the break room cheering sonny boy on.


Tulgen calls it “in loco parentis management ” where supervisors provide strong management in the workplace to fill a void where the parent has always been.

Ironically, managers report, “If you hire a Generation Y worker who is not close to (her) parents, you may be sorry. Among today’s young workers, those who are closest to their parents will probably turn out to be the most able, most achievement oriented, and the hardest working.”

Ideally, the best place for a Gen Y worker is at a company that can offer flexible reward system that includes monetary incentives, time off, varying start times, and has a supervisory staff willing to teach the basic skills of good manners, critical thinking, and the consequences of their actions.

Sigh. I thought that was what I have been doing? Haven’t I?


A. Woz for EP, December 4, 2009.

2 Responses

  1. Do you ever read The Trouble with Young People IS blog? ( It’s outrageous, irrevererent, exaggerated, and profane, but he does make me laugh sometimes!

    However, I understand that when the Bank of America board was in the heat of its search to name for a new CEO, its chairman went on a two-week cruise and was unreachable. Believe me, he’s no Gen Y.

    • oh my, he IZ crabby. HIlarious, too. HOnest. Kind of like the grandparent we never wanted to have, but were stuck with who wisely advised us and we cringed because we knew he was right. We all need a crabbyold(hatethatword) in our house. I guess this is as close as it gets!

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