Coping with a generation of confident, ambitious youngsters
AS THE first comments were running out a few years ago on this thing called Gen Y, I - like many others of my age - were of course a little sceptical. I'm apparently a Baby Boomer - the age between 1946 and 1964, although essentially I think I am about 25.
What did it mean and why should we pay any more attention to it than we had to any other aspect of business, life or the other things that made our lives some of the busiest of any generation? Surely it is just a new fad and someone is making money from it?
Once my curiosity was engaged and I realised my scepticism was more a component of my own generational challenge, I went to explore the claims and, you know, there is quite a bit in it. My aim was to understand the things that motivate and drive this amazing generation of young, savvy, entrepreneurial, highly-educated, globally-focused, confident, open-minded, ambitious element in our community.
I found it important to recognise that the way I grew up was radically different from the world I had played a part in creating and in which this generation was making the most of. It was a golden age then, coming off the back of the Second World War and moving through to the end of the Cold War, where jobs were plenty, opportunities were abundant and created the "Me Generation" with a focus very much on the individual, their growth, personal development, spiritual enlightenment and success through hard work - status was measured by the 60-hour week and your job title.
Fast forward to now and we find this group has been born with technology as a birthright and a mantra of make it efficient, do it quickly, quality of output rather than quantity of time, work is a smaller part of a larger life so treat me well or I'll move on. They have been told the world is theirs and are claiming it with few of the constraints that plagued older generations. Personally, I am entranced by the capacity of these young people and their willingness to engage in mentoring and coaching. They're not interested in being micromanaged and loyalty is less of a consideration than learning.
Remember these people will make up about 75% of the workforce by 2030. They will make decisions that impact on you so it may be important to get to understand them now. That makes sense doesn't it?
The other group I have started watching is the next generation coming on now. Given the rapidity of change, imagine what the world will be for them?
Nick Bennett is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned.