I find myself in the middle of this genY discussions at the most surprising places and ways. Back in the days I was comfortable with at least the positive stereotypes, but by now the most appreciative ones are bothering me as well. Based on the most frequently heard / read statements, I tell you the reason why.
GenYs are lazy
Leading genY at the workplace has almost became a distinct paradigm. Reportedly, in 2012 it was one of the most popular topics in the Hungarian training market. (I only mention this because I live and work here as a soft skill trainer and facilitator.) The commonly held opinion is that it’s hard to make us work, motivate and lead in general. The impression (stigma?) of being lazy might stem from the perception of our habit of asking “why” during the process of a workplace delegation. This meaning / goal seeking way of thinking can be easily mistaken for simply critical or resistant behaviour. Distinguishing between the two requires some leadership skills without doubt.
As to myself, I like to be fully aware of the “why”s of a task to be able to answer my own questions raising during the execution. This way I don’t have to call my boss all the time to ask crap. But as a facilitator, I hear the same principles from the 90% of non Y leaders all the time. They like to work the same way: with defined and understood goals and confines, but with freedom regarding to the execution process. (And this is called the concept of empowerment in many organizations.)
Labels of being “lazy” or “unmotivated” bothers me the most when I read them as a relaxation at the end of a 12-14 hours workday.
The other explanation for this phenotypic laziness is – stands for me at least – that indeed I don’t want a job, but I want meaningful work. And because of that, I indeed sniff at job-like (means useless, senseless) tasks. Anyway, this pretty saying about jobs and meaningful work was not invented by me, but I stole it from silver headed economists and philosophers, who – despite they are really not from genY – think the same way as I do.
GenYs are tech savvy
I know, I know that toddlers find out in no time how to use screens and digital technology, but in my opinion this is only a matter of curiosity and playfulness. They catch what moves, they push what flashes and listens what makes a sound – again and again. But posting on facebook, making photos and phone calls doesn’t mean savvy. Teachers worry about most of the teens lacking the skills needed for conscious and rational tech usage. Marketing professionals mention that young folks also as professionals use technology l’art pour l’art, without strategic understanding. I know a lot of person in my age, whose favourite collaboration tool is email, and who doesn’t know and care about instagram. We are all different.
Oftentimes I face that my tech connected (or tech based) initiations do not get much attention just because of this misbelief. “This is a kind of genY stuff” – they say, which means that they don’t have anything to do with my idea, and I’m cute, but thanks no. This attitude suggests that I am familiar with the digital only through my birth date. And this is simply not true: I’ve made and still make an effort to use digital technology in a useful way. When I had to write a company tender application (the one with thousand pages of administration) I didn’t label it as “a kind of genX stuff”, but I read the manuals, worked on it, and done it. I’ve learned what was needed.
GenYs are narcissists
This argument is based on the presumption that in our childhood, our teachers and parents only provided us positive feedback, therefore made us think that we are special. Maybe this stands for the US, but here, in Hungary – where I live – the situation is quite the opposite. From workplace to psychodrama groups, from trainings to glossys it looks like we hardly remember when was the last time then we got a praise from the parents and mainly from the father. So we pay our salary for visiting presentations like Andrew Feldmár’s to get told again and again that we are okay, and labelling others as not okays (what we think our parents and teachers have done to us) is indeed the thing that is not okay.
My problem is that this narcissism-argument flows in Hungarian articles and blog posts without any criticism. Maybe nonYs feel that Ys demand special treatment. Well, it depends. I myself – I think – demand humanistic treatment and vital respect. Not because I am so special, or because I have so fantastic achievements. Rather because I, myself am striving to give this humanistic treatment and vital respect to everyone regardless of their age, sex or intelligence. If this kind of respect counts as special, not as normal at a workplace, than maybe this is something should be considered by company leaders and HR professionals – not by genYs…
GenYs in general
I’ve never faced the withering effects of the stereotypes about the social category I represent. (Maybe except when I read the book Gypsy Labyrinth.) We use and spread loose (and sometimes false) words, phrases and stylistics in public discussion. Once I’ve read that genYs don’t like to get workplace tasks for the weekend. They are willing (and sometimes like) to do additional work, but it’s essential for them to be the owner of the decision about it. I want to know if there is anybody on earth from any generations who would say the opposite for weekend work. Phrasings like this doesn’t enhance curiosity and openness towards each other, but only widens the gap between generations. At least: in my opinion.
This Y stereotype is such a common and an influencing one, that it sometimes makes me (I mean me!) very difficult to get noticed . As a good item of the category, sometimes I feel like lying on the couch of an orthodox psychoanalyst: If I agree, that means insight and self-reflection. If I disagree, it’s labelled as unconscious resistance.
Is there any place for genY in the public discourse about itself? Or it’s disagreement and counter-arguments are only additional evidences of it’s narcissism and laziness? Maybe even this post wasn’t written because I’m sick and tired of this, but because of genYs are creative and like to share their opinions online.
(I’ve read that genYs likes and requires feedback a lot. So I encourage you to tell your opinion – about the content, the phrasing or the grammar as well. 🙂 )