Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What Generation Y is Not

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Various labels have been dropped on Generation Y ( Gen Y).


(A Baby Boomer tries to explain his nebulous understanding of Gen Y)


Generation Y – generally accepted to be the last generation of the prior Millennium – would be the technologically aware cohort born somewhere around 1980 until the year 2000.


They have been called The Milliennials, The Google generation, and even the Entitlement Generation. I have even coined a phrase for independent technology workers - the majority of whom will be Gen Y -- the Netcohort.


If you look at the issues that have sprung up around Generation Y you will see a pattern. Web 2.0, frequent job switches, indie rock, and a much wider variety of dress and activities than prior generations – all are influenced by Gen Y's primary characteristic.


Where the Baby Boomer's lives were influenced by wars, WWII, Korea, Vietnam -- the Gen Y existence is primarily influenced by their personal relationships.


Generation Y is perhaps best defined as The Relationship Generation.


The web sites that stress relationships are what web 2.0 is all about. Gen Yers instant message, exchange pictures and bios on My Space, and experiment with new trends based on trusted recommendations.


The formalities of prior generations are vanishing. If this is just the result of fifty years of increasing prosperity or a full cultural shift will be discovered as we leave the next depression. My feeling is that as the industrial age and its economies of scale collapse before empowered individuals – formalities may decline even further.


If you work for an old line bureaucracy – you will have noticed the difficulty in retaining your promising Gen Y new hires. They entered your environment with certain promises, when those promises are not fulfilled – they leave.


Relationships are built on trust.


Trust is difficult to win and easy to lose. Generation Y understands this – they will readily recommend what they have found pleasing. If a Gen Ys recommendations have been sound – they develop an audience. Trust therefore becomes the basis of interaction and migration to new experiences.


If you are part of Generation Y – The Relationship Generation – you may be best served by developing your own passions and creating your own company.


If you are working with Gen Y, don't over promise and under deliver. Don't hire a Gen Y by talking about the challenges of the work – and expect them to be happy running your errands.


The dues paid by Generation Y are different than those paid by Boomers and Generation X.


Gen Y has paid for credibility in their cohort – let them use the flexibility and power of trusting relationships to everyone's advantage.


You will eventually have to trust Generation Y – they and their relationships carry our future.


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