So much talk about Gen Y, an ode to Boomers

Autumn Day

Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by J. Mullen

Lord: it is time. The summer was great.
Lay your shadows onto the sundials
and let loose the winds upon the fields.

Command the last fruits to be full,
give them yet two more southern days,
urge them to perfection, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who now has no house, builds no more.
Who is now alone, will long remain so,
will stay awake, read, write long letters
and will wander restlessly here and there
in the avenues, when the leaves drift.

Baby boomers celebrate what we have achieved and make our celebration our contribution to the this new age

There is so much talk about Gen Y.  Here is the question for baby boomers.  How should we  celebrate the autumn of our years?

Gen Y will be here one day too. They might also be interested in how to celebrate the house that is ours and to make the celebration of our achievements our very contribution to this new age?

What is your house? How do you celebrate? How does your celebration contribute? How many of us can answer these questions simply?

Gen Y leadership style

The historical influences shaping Gen Y

There is an excellent article on Gen Y from The Office NewB on Brazen Careerist today. And who says Gen Y can’t write! It sums up the influences on Gen Y and shows the potential of their generation.

1. Getting along in an equal world.

2. Taking personal responsibility for the economic viability & sustainability of our work and lifestyle.

3. Re-centering our lives on our families and community life.

4. Fully exploring new technologies.

5. Extending self-determination to our relationships in the workplace.

I recently had an assignment in which I worked intensively with a large Gen Y client-base for three years. As a Gen X’er, I had a steep learning curve, and it is one that I glad I made.

I’ve found Gen Y refreshing. It is true that they want information to be personally meaningful. But who doesn’t? Gen Y simply live at a time when technology has allowed democracy to step forward. They are showing us the way.

Are Gen Y prepared for leadership?

I’ve also recently had some bad experiences with Gen Y as leaders and I asked around the blogosphere for their thoughts. This is important. Many Gen Yers are already in positions of responsibility and I have particularly disliked they way they are unable to relate to people with experience. I don’t mean kow-tow; I mean to relate; to acknowledge the existence of others; to inquire and to learn from others. These failures challenged my understanding that Gen Y are good at working in teams.

In drafting my comment to The Office NewB’s post, I may have found the answer and I would be interested in your opinion.

Gen Y are good at dealing with distributed decision making, not teams per se. In distributed decision making, the final conclusion is found by repeated iterations. Consensus is marked by a majority vote in some cases and supported in others by the absence of another compelling argument.

Distributed decision making does not require a leader to encourage involvement. The distributed system has been set up by a games designer, or puppet master, whom players acknowledge, implicitly but do not communicate with directly. Leadership in these systems moves around depending on who is contributing the most interesting solution. The games designers and puppet masters also respond to the players as the game unfolds.

In a conventional workplace, leadership does not move around. It is vested predominantly in one person and that person has an obligation to find the information relevant to the problem. The system assumes the leader has the cognitive and behavioral framework to detect and to collate all the information.

It is not and never has been a feature of command and control to ignore subordinates. That would be so silly.

If the system is malfunctioning and the ‘boss’ is not sufficiently capable to recognize and organize all the relevant information, or if the people put in those positions don’t expect to play that role, or if they problems we are addressing are too complex for any one person to function in that way, then we may need to overhaul either our processes or our structures.

I wonder if anyone else has a view one this?

UPDATE: Update of my views on managing in the age of Gen Y

War for talent? Someone is squabbling over me!

Yesterday, I was down in London to attend the CIPD meeting on talent management. This is a hot issue.

“The war for talent”

With my recent experience teaching management to 900 predominantly Gen Y students in New Zealand, I wondered what they would make of that expression.

Would you like two employers to go to war to win you? Sounds good.

Are you a prize to be won? Mmmm . . .

There may be a war to be the best employer though, because Gen Y not only clutches a mobile, it is mobile.

Gen Y are often described as a feckless generation. They aren’t in my experience. Their mobile phones, metaphors of the age, deliver personal, relevant and timely information. They are more focused, more connected, more socially responsible and more time oriented than any generation that have gone before.

Are we going to keep up with them? Who will win the war for a Gen-Y-ready organization?

This reminds me of that famous saying. Whoops, there go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them.

Someone asked the question from the floor. Is talent management always about slots that we want to fill? Or, are the ambitions and interests of our people, and how they develop when they work with each other, our real competitive edge?

Is Gen Y going to rewrite the employment contract? Will work become a place where we are agentic? Where there is room for initiative? Where we become purposeful and imaginative because our work brings out what is purposeful and imaginative?

Will people or talent become less of a commodity, and more of an essential alliance between stakeholders?

Gen Y rocks!

What has Gen Y done to the English language?

There was a time that I would have needed an interpreter to understand my title. After three years’ teaching a large management class (+-900 students) on the South Island of New Zealand, I agree with Scott McArthur, Gen Y rocks.

Dispel the myths about Gen Y

  • Far from being out-of-it, as young sociologist Maz Hardey at York University attests, mobile phones represent levels of interaction that our generation can barely comprehend. Games, as I know from talking to young games designers, represent a level of social design beyond anything envisioned by the social engineers working in 60’s and 70’s.
  • They don’t vote.  But this isn’t lethargy.  It is like helicopters blaring out “Paint it Black” as they go into combat.  And Forces’ radio “Good morning, Vietnam”.   We are seeing a similar attitude and I suspect, a revolution.

Celebrating the new Gen

And about time too. Gen X was horribly out numbered by the boomers. Gen Y is as powerful as the flower power, baby boomers, the contraceptive pill, protests against Vietnam and a VW Kombi.  Gen X is also known as the generation without a war. Gen Y have their war. They are turning out for Obama.  So let’s see.

As for me, I think Gen Y rocks. The 21st century is looking good!