Gen Wise Perspective

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

Archive for the tag “Gen Y”

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 🙂

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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?

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)

When is it necessary to communicate face-to-face?

As digital natives, Gen Y-ers have less of a tendency to communicate about things in person. Kim and I work in the same office but still email and tweet at each other instead of just getting up and talking face-to-face (although we do that too—she’s my girl!). But, it’s not uncommon for Gen Y to behave this way. We text or send a Facebook message before we pick up the phone and call you.

Yet I still believe there are times when it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face.

It’s a matter of respect. There are certain topics of conversation that deserve to be discussed in person—serious, personal and/or private matters, for instance. Please do them justice by making the effort to speak about them when you’re able to look someone in the eye.

And what about tone of voice? Let’s not forget that things can easily be misinterpreted when the computer (or mobile device) stands in the way. I’m an extremely sarcastic person (those of you that know me are nodding along thinking, “Yep, she’s a smart ass”), but sarcasm doesn’t translate very well if someone can’t hear your tone of voice.

This last point is going to sound so obvious, but the other time I think it’s necessary to communicate face-to-face is when you’re in the same room as someone. I know we all sit there two-thumbing our phones while at dinner with friends, but aside from that being rude…it just doesn’t make sense. Be present. Be in the moment.

I’m not saying you can’t check your phone, but have you ever seen those people who don’t say a word to one another because they’re so absorbed with whatever is happening on their phone? Come on, what is SO important on your phone that you can’t speak to the person sitting across the table from you?

Maybe I’m a little old school. I do still use a notebook and paper. I prefer reading actual books instead of using an e-reader. But I really think there’s some validity to my face-to-face argument.

Why?

Face-to-face interaction will never be completely replaced. We’re human beings, aren’t we? We have an inherent need to interact with one another. Let’s not become robots that are unable to communicate in person or have no personality because we never had to learn how to talk to someone without taking time to think of a witty response before hitting send.

Think about this: job interviews are face-to-face. Meetings are face-to-face (sometimes). Other business matters are still often settled face-to-face. Networking, although it can be done via social media, also happens face-to-face. The first impression someone has of you probably has a lot to do with…your face.

Just trying to make a point here.

What point is that? Don’t undervalue face-to-face interaction, regardless of how tech-savvy you are. There are times when it’s necessary.

(Image from msnbc.com–link to textaholic article by clicking on the pic)

What do Twitter nerds say on Valentine’s Day?

I love someecards. They’re highly inappropriate yet awesome ways to get a good laugh. Talk about Gen Y and our love for finding humor online and sharing it virally with one another.

So, when I saw this one I couldn’t help but share it with everyone. Being that I’m a huge Twitter nerd, this is my V-day love for all of the Tweeps out there. Love you guys!

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?

What’s Up?

This is just an introduction post from Kim and me saying hello to everyone (probably just our moms and co-workers-ha!) reading this blog. The post is entitled “what’s up?” because I don’t know any other generation except for ours that uses the phrase “what’s up?” as a greeting, and because most of our posts will begin with a question instead of telling you how to do things.

You’ll find posts on the blog that talk about marketing strategies (mainly digital), PR tactics, and of course social media. There might be a few other things that fall under the umbrella as well. We’re going to tell it to you from our point of view as Gen Yers. As recent college grads, we’ll also post on breaking into those industries as well as what you can do to succeed in them.

We both wanted to begin blogging because we have lots of thoughts and we’re news/Twitter junkies who can’t get enough of this stuff. But we figured that we should let you know we aren’t trying to be experts — we’re just providing a point of view from a generation that grew up with technology and the Internet (for the most part, anyway).

Kim and I are very friendly, goofy, all-around happy people so always feel free to reach out to us with your thoughts. If you think of a good blog post idea, let us know and we’ll write about it. If there’s something you’re wondering about Gen Y please come to the source. We’ll do our best to guide you.

You can find out more about us on the About Us page. We look forward to engaging with you!

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