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