Would You Raise Your Kids This Y, I Mean Way?

Gen Y, the conundrum of today’s workforce. Really?

I have read all sorts of blogs and articles, listened to podcasts, attended webinars, about how to deal with Gen Y. Not because I am stuck on what to do with a young workforce, but because I am trying to figure out why I need to bother to do anything different at all.

Gen Y, the Millennials, we’re born from 1985 to 1990, and came of age only a few years ago and have entered the workforce. Seen as disloyal, over-parented and self-centred, this group (it is said) is impossible to understand by their older supervisors.

But I disagree.

Many of the Gen Y’s I work with have a great sense of humour, are smart and hard working. I can connect with them; explain tasks and supervise them, and laugh with them. I am not young (though not old!) and don’t expect to be part of their “crowd”, and certainly not their friend.

I have worked with some Gen Ys who were not those things, and they did not last long: they left or were fired. I have worked with baby-boomers and Gen Xer’s who were also those things, and they also found their way to the door.

The webinars and articles I read say to do “fun” things for your Gen Y employees, like small gifts or cards on their birthday, or a first-day present of 5 business cards as a treat. Please, we are not in grade 4. I would not cater to my kids’ self-centred-ness, nor would I insult them by doing anything like that. Why would I do anything like that for 20-something employees?

My prediction, the young employees who meet the stereotype of lazy and self-centred will learn the hard way, but they will learn, and it will not be pretty for them. They will in fact have lots of jobs because they moved on because they saw the writing on the wall, or because they were moved on by their employer.

My kids act self-centred lots of times, all kids do. You train them not to be like that over time. If their parents haven’t trained their 20-somethings, have no fear, someone will.

So I have the following plan: I will try to treat all employees with respect, talk to them like equals and expect good effort and good results. For new employees, and for young ones, I will expend the effort and patience needed to turn them into good employees.

Quite honestly, I don’t have the patience for much else. Is that so wrong?

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