Gen Wise Perspective

Gen Y's perspective (pun intended) on our journey through work, life, and everything in between.

Archive for the category “Workplace”

What are common misconceptions about Gen Y employees? (Pt. 2)

A few days ago I shared a Q&A on the misconceptions of Gen Y employees from someone who manages them. In my attempt to prove a point, I asked a few people the same list of questions.

We now have part two of the series. This Q&A was answered by Angelica Colantuoni. Angelica is currently the VP of Digital at Weber Shandwick in Chicago, and allegedly a reader of Gen Wise Perspective (I’m still not convinced anyone but my mom and Kim read this blog).

So what did Angelica have to say?

1. Does age affect your decision when hiring employees?

Not at all.

2. Do you base an employee’s job role/position on their age?

No.

3. Do you consider someone at a “junior level” less competent than those at a “senior level”?

Not at all. Everyone’s different and brings different strengths to the table regardless if you are junior or senior.

4. What is your overall opinion on age as it relates to an employee’s capabilities/performance?

My overall opinion is that age doesn’t necessarily equal maturity. Lately, I’ve seen more signs of immaturity in those with years and years of experience than I have with people who are just starting their careers.

5. Are there things you think younger generations excel at over others?

I still think that this is an individual thing rather than a sweeping generalization that millenials are more digitally savvy (for example.) We’re all individuals and we all excel in different areas….this isn’t based on age.

6. What is the biggest difference in managing Gen Y employees over others?

From my experience, it’s the desire to get promoted at lightning speed. We all want to get promoted and I suffered from that a bit too as I was starting out but it seems the time frame has gotten shorter as to when they want to get promoted to the next level.

7. is an advantage to assigning junior level employees to projects over senior level employees?

I don’t see an advantage one way or another. Whoever is going to have a smile on their face and make me laugh as we do the assignment together is who I would gravitate towards.

8. What is the number one thing you would say that junior level employees can learn from senior level execs?

Curiosity. I think the most successful execs out there have a natural sense of curiosity…for news, trends, business, etc…This makes your career and life much more satisfying.

9. What surprises you the most about your junior level employees?

I would have to agree with Gini on this one. I’m always surprised on their dependence/relationship with their parents for help with decisions. I’ve seen parents get involved in some reviews because they weren’t happy with the feedback that they received. That’s just crazy to me.

10. Anything else to add on this overall topic? A personal experience you’ve had?

I don’t have one personal experience to share but overall I think it’s all based on personalities and work ethics. I’ve found lately that I tend to have a better working relationship with those that can have fun at their job and not take themselves too seriously whether or not you are 23 or 63. And, honestly, there are very immature and self-absorbed senior level execs out there that take themselves way too seriously. They could take a lesson or two from some Gen Y employees…..

 

And yet again we see it’s about “personalities and work ethics,” rather than age itself. Yes, Gen Y clearly has some flaws (doesn’t everyone?) but they aren’t necessarily ones that make us incapable of performing a job well.

Stay tuned for parts 3 and 4 of this series. I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the subject, so please feel free to share them in the comments.

Also, if you’re feeling ambitious about answering all of these and would like to get involved, just let me know and we’ll extend this into a longer series 🙂

What are common misconceptions about Gen Y employees? (Pt. 1)

Kim and I have posted before about work ethic as it relates to age. The topic is part of what inspired us to start this blog. I think there are many misconceptions about Gen Y as a whole, particularly when it comes to how we behave in the workforce.

Recently,  I’ve encountered this firsthand. Although we might be just as competent (if not more so) than employees that are older than us, we’re still judged immediately because we look like junior level employees. Often times there’s the complaint that a client is going to “get handed off to a junior level employee,” and because we look the part we’re immediately lumped into that category.

Instead of going off on a rant about this, I decided to send a few questions to some friends in the industry that I respect very much. I wanted to get an outside opinion because I don’t think I’m an objective source (seeing as I’m always going to defend my generation).

So, part one of the Misconceptions About Gen Y Employees blog series is my Q&A with the lovely Gini Dietrich. Gini is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich here in Chicago, and she writes one of my favorite PR industry blogs, Spin Sucks.

1. Does age affect your decision when hiring employees?

Nope

2. Do you base an employee’s job role/position on their age?

Nope

3. Do you consider someone at a “junior level” less competent than those at a “senior level”?

Definitely. HAHAHA. No, of course not.

4. What is your overall opinion on age as it relates to an employee’s capabilities/performance?

I think age and perspective are two different things. There are plenty of Baby Boomers who can’t do as well as young professionals and vice versa. It has nothing to do with age. Sometimes it has to do with experience but, more often than not, it’s perspective.

5. Are there things you think younger generations excel at over others?

Sure! I think young professionals understand the digital space better than their older colleagues. Some of them have perspective that allows them to translate their personal social media experience to work and some don’t have it.

6. What is the biggest difference in managing Gen Y employees over others?

I don’t think it’s a Gen Y thing, as much as it is a patience thing. Some employees really want to be promoted so they can manage people. Some people think they deserve something that, as a supervisor, I don’t think they’re quite ready for. But that has nothing to do with age.

7. What is an advantage to assigning junior level employees to projects over senior level employees?

I’m not sure there is an advantage as it’s based on experience, perspective, motivation, and drive. Not on age.

8. What is the number one thing you would say that junior level employees can learn from senior level execs?

Patience.

9. What surprises you the most about your junior level employees?

Their dependence on their parents.

10. Anything else to add to this overall topic? A personal experience you’ve had?

I’ve had lots of bad experiences – with young and experienced employees. The strangest things that have ever happened is a parent calling me to negotiate a new employee’s package and another employee’s parent calling because he’d been put on probation. Wonders never cease.

The main takeaway I get from this is that it’s not about age or “level” of an employee, but rather the individual person and their work ethic. What do you think?

What does your personality type say about your work ethic?

Last week, a coworker gave out a personality test in the office. The test involved a series of four different words, and you would rank the words from “most like you” to “least like you.” After we went through about 20 sequences of words, we added the numbers to see what type of leadership personality we had. What came as a shock to no one, Jackie and I both ended up with the Socializer leadership style.

Among others, the Socializer style was defined by these statements:

  • the communicator promoting style
  • loves to talk
  • visually oriented
  • gets others involved
  • loves to be around people
So what does this say about my work ethic?
From a business perspective, these traits are spot on. Rarely do I ever like to work on projects on my own, and always welcome anyone’s opinion on the project I have at hand. I also love to talk to others as I work, and listen to music while working.

How does it compare to the traits of my coworkers?

From taking the test, I also learned that some of the team members that work on projects with me had completely different personality types. They would rather work on things in quiet, private space, and not have the entire team discussing something. Some also preferred to not collaborate on tasks.

How can you make different personality types work together?
After learning about my coworkers personality types as well as my own, I discovered that having a collection of types is what is best for a team. You don’t want everyone on the team directing and leading, and you also don’t want your entire team to be made up of serious schedule-oriented members. The key is to have an even amount of all types. You can then learn the way they work, as well as see how your personality adds to the flavor of your team as an entirety.

Although it didn’t come as a surprise to me what style I fell under, the test made me think about what a big difference leadership types can make on your workforce. Knowing what type you are as well where your coworkers fall can lead to a better understanding of ideas on projects. It can also teach you why people think about things the way they do. I encourage you to try them in your office. You can find tests online here and here.

Image source.

Are business leaders accountable for their actions?

In my mind, one of the defining characteristics of Gen Y is that we don’t like anything that is overly corporate or structured. Maybe we’re all just striving to be unique individuals, but overall we love the idea of going against The Man.

I’m all for that point of view, but recently I’ve started to see another side of the coin: The Man (aka the leader of a large corporation) cares more than you’d think.

Hear me out, please.

Gen Y employees tend to be lower down in companies (given our age), yet there are many of us who think we know best. Sometimes our ideas are very innovative. Sometimes they are extremely naïve and/or idealistic. Other times we are business-savvy but have superiors who refuse to listen or shift away from the “traditional” methods that have always worked in the past.

But the biggest misconception is that CEOs just sit in their corner office raking in the dough and not caring about the company.

You know why that’s not the case?

Because when shit hits the fan, the CEO is the one who gets canned. They are the face of the organization—the one with the biggest responsibility of all: Making sure the entire operation is running, and running successfully.

So, yes, the CEO gets that nice fat paycheck, but “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” (Yes I’m a nerd and quoted Shakespeare’s Henry IV)

When a company as a whole doesn’t live up to expectations, it’s not those of us at entry-mid level who gets blamed in the public eye…it’s the CEO.

I’ve actually seen this theory in action as I’ve begun to manage others. I’m lucky to work with some very talented individuals, but still if something goes wrong…it’s all on me. Both my clients and my boss are going to look to me because it’s my job to run these accounts, so it’s my job to make sure the other people on my team are doing things right.

Unfortunately, things go wrong that are out of our control. Guess what? I’ll be the one taking the lumps for it.

Yes, I know there are many business leaders who have outdated ideas and could benefit from learning a few lessons in their industry. There are others who might just be counting down the days until retirement. But for the most part, I really don’t think that’s the case. There are many CEOs out there who are truly passionate about the organizations they run.

So, let’s give business leaders a break. It’s really easy to pass judgment until you’re in a similar situation and realize why someone might have come to the decision they did.

Keep in mind that there’s a downside to everything. A CEO might be on top, but they’re also sitting on a pile of responsibilities that we don’t have to deal with.

(photo credit goes to playingintraffic.wordpress.com)

Is Gen Y’s behavior really such a bad thing?

Photo from ThomasTalksTech.com

Of course to some extent each generation has its own characteristics, but Gen Y’s always seem to be discussed negatively. It’s starting to get on my nerves, which is why I was thrilled to see David Teicher providing some clarification on our generation in this AdAge article earlier this week.

After I read David’s article I realized a main part of this problem: we’re just not on the same page as other generations. This probably happens every time a new generation comes up the pike. So let me remind you: Just because we do things differently doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

Many of the “issues” brought up about Gen Y are the same as incompetent behavior that occurs with people of any generation–It just comes out in a different form.

For instance, a Millennial might send an email with “UR” instead of “your,” but is that really any worse than someone from a different generation using “you’re” when they’re trying to say “your”?

My point is that the problems with work ethic and the way people approach their jobs (or job hunting) occur across the board. It has nothing to do with our generation in particular.

I think the main thing that sets our generation apart is that we’re digital natives. Technology drives the way we communicate/interact, socialize, approach our work…basically how we do everything. But here’s the thing: our entire society is shifting toward digital. So maybe Gen Y is actually ahead of the curve, huh?

It’s something to think about.

But please, embrace what Gen Y has to offer because there are many hardworking, innovative, intelligent and well-spoken Millennials out there. I promise. Work with us instead of going against us and blaming our faults on our age. Maybe, as Nancy Lublin suggested in her Fast Company article, we need to be managed differently. Isn’t it worth trying to collaborate? Wouldn’t that be much more productive?

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