Managing Generation Y Tammy Erickson (Harvard Business Review)

A rough transcript of some of the ideas in the Managing Gen Y video are in the quote block below:

Happy to tackle to big projects: Boomer parents have been telling them they can do anything they set their minds to .. they are ready for your biggest and toughest jobs.

Impatient: They want what they do on to be joyful and meaningful from day one on the job. (grew up in a world full of terrible events) many have made a decision that they need to live life now. They need to get on with the most important parts of their life.

Don’t necessarily want their manager’s job: “It doesn’t look worth it.”

Genuinely believe you want to hear what they have to say. (and might text message their ideas). Do things in short bursts, astonished how much time companies spend trying to get people together for meetings/etc.

Very good at asynchronous activity.

Like [/have good relationships with] their parents. Parents might try to help them, without Gen Y knowing about it.

Like working with Boomers. OK with mentoring relationships, whereas Y’s and X’s may not get along as well.

Overall, I like many of the insights from this video and see some value in consideration of these as an educator. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t particularly believe in the concept of homogeneous age cohorts, since people come from all sorts of different backgrounds and belief systems, but Erickson does have some good ideas here.

For example, taking advantage of asynchronous communication tools is an excellent idea, and one that eLearning tools can be used for.

I think that young people of any generation like to believe that authority figures want to hear their ideas. I know I thought the same, before I ran into the realities of power structures, entrenched interests, and disinterested corporate systems. Texting the CEO of a major corporation might not always be a great idea. I’ve seen similar things happen with email and it didn’t turn out well for the less powerful employee.

The younger people in my life have made it clear that it is usually a waste of time trying to email or phone them– and forget about leaving a voicemail. Text messages are strongly preferred.

The impatience noted could be a problem for education that requires building up of knowledge and skills over time. This could be counteracted with good communication about how and why the skill-building process is designed as it is.

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