Application Case 2–1
Gen Y Rocks the Business World
Nearly every businessperson over 35 has done it: sat in her office after a staff meeting and—reflecting upon the 25-year-old colleague with two tattoos, a piercing, a near addiction to checking his Facebook account with his smart phone, no watch, and a shameless propensity for chatting up the boss—wondered, What is with that guy!
At once a hipster and a climber, he is all nonchalance and expectation. He is new, he is annoying, and he and his female counterparts are invading corporate offices across America.
Generation Y: Its members are different in many respects, from their upbringing to their politics. But it might be their effect ...view middle of the document...
Young employees are demanding that they be given productive tasks to do from the first day of work, and that the people they work for notice and react to their performance.”
Those were the early baby boomers, and—with their 1960s sensibility and navel- gazing—they left their mark on just about every institution they passed through. Now come their children, to confound them. The kids—self-absorbed, gregarious, multitasking, loud, optimistic, pierced—are exactly what the boomers raised them to be, and now they’re being themselves all over the business world.
The workworld will be different.
“This is the most high-maintenance workforce in the history of the world,” says Bruce Tulgan, the founder of leading generational-research firm RainmakerThinking. “The good news is they’re also going to be the most high-performing workforce in the history of the world. They walk in with more information in their heads, more information at their fingertips—and, sure, they have high expectations, but they have the highest expectations first and foremost for themselves.”
There is likely to be a cultural clash between the different generations in the workplace. The Generation Y tribe is offering some startling examples of changes at work. A Beverly Hills psychiatrist’s office is an unlikely triage center for the mash-up of generations in the workforce. But Dr. Charles Sophy is seeing the casualties firsthand. Last year, when a 24-year-old salesman at a car dealership didn’t get his yearly bonus because of poor performance, both of his parents showed up at the company’s regional headquarters and sat outside the CEO’s office, refusing to leave until they got a meeting. “Security had to come and escort them out,” Sophy says.
A 22-year-old pharmaceutical employee learned that he was not getting the promotion he had been eyeing. His boss told him he needed to work on his weaknesses first. The Harvard grad had excelled at everything he had ever done, so he was crushed by the news. He told his parents about the performance review, and they were convinced there was some misunderstanding, some way they could fix it, as they’d been able to fix everything before. His mother called the human resources department the next day. Seventeen times. She left increasingly frustrated messages: “You’re purposely ignoring us”; “you fudged the evaluation”; “you have it in for my son.” She demanded a mediation session with her, her son, his boss, and HR—and got it. At one point, the 22-year-old reprimanded the HR rep for being “rude to my mom.”
The patients on Sophy’s couch aren’t the twentysomethings dealing with their first taste of failure. Nor are they the “helicopter parents.” They’re the traumatized bosses, as well as the 47-year-old woman from HR who has been hassled time and again by her youngest workers and their parents. Now the pharmaceutical company that employs her has her in therapy, and she’s on six-month stress leave.
And she’s going to have plenty of...