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May 2011
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

Wow! It was a real pleasure to see your comments, feedback, and dialog on last month's article, How to Work with Generation X. Thank you very much and keep your feedback coming! Here are some choice comments:
"Very intriguing article!"

"I do have to chuckle because I am typical Gen Xer who hates to be 'labeled' as Gen X. :)"

"Thanks for trusting some Gen Xers for feedback!"

"What I find most frustrating as a Gen X worker is that Baby Boomer supervisors don't tend to trust the creative solutions that a Gen Xer can come up with."

"Understanding that there is more than one way to solve a problem by thinking outside of the box is difficult for some Baby Boomers who are used to 'my way is the right way'."

"The point about MICROMANAGING can't be stressed enough."

"We're educated, intelligent and creative folks. You hired us to do a job; now step back and let us do it!"

"What an excellent article!"

"As a bonafide Gen X-er, I can attest to the validity of everything you stated in your article."

"To be honest, most of my generation (Gen X) thinks that the Baby Boomers are a bunch of jerks (barring some exceptions)!"

"As you mentioned in your article, I think many people from my generation (Gen X) feel that we've inherited a world that's broken, and we're not very happy about it. I hold out a lot of hope for the generation after me—the Gen Y-ers and the Millennium Kids. Perhaps with their help, my generation will be able to fix the wrongs in this world."

This issue has the article which we promised last month, How to Work with Generation Y. Quite a few of us may find ourselves in situations where our supervisors are of the age of our sons and daughters. The article gives some insights on how to behave under these circumstances.

Food for the Soul has the true and heartfelt story about The Nobel Prize.

We welcome many of our friends from The Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, The Networking Professionals of New Jersey, The Workforce Education Committee and The Somerset Hills Business Network, who are now receiving this monthly CareerQuest e-Newsletter. If you wish to see some back issues, please visit the Archives page of our website.

Until we meet again through the magic of e-mail,

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.)
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach

  How to Work with Generation Y (born between 1980 and 1990)  
  by Don Sutaria

I must admit as a career counselor and career coach that I had some incorrect notions about Generation Y. Having studied Generation X extensively, I thought Generation Y would follow a similar or slightly different pattern. But I was pleasantly wrong!

Generation Y is loosely defined as young men and women born between 1980 and 1990, some 76 million strong! You will find these twentysomethings everywhere in homes, in schools, at work, on the streets, and in communities. Did you know that Generation Y is also known as Millennials, Echo Boomers, Baby Boomlets, Boomerang Generation, and MyPod Generation?

       Image of Generation Y people
(The period, 1980-1990, is also open to debate, and some authors prefer to use the period from 1977-1995 or 1982-2000, for identifying Generation Y. Incidentally, the generation born after 1990 is already labeled as Generation Z! I wonder if additional generations would start with A, B, C, or in reverse from Generation X, like W, V, U!! Note that labeling and pigeon-holing is intensely disliked by youth.)

They are fairly optimistic, have super-size expectations, do not slack off, and have the potential for becoming high performers.
First, several observations and analysis before I offer some insights and strategies for managing Gen-Y.
  1. Generation Y is demanding and freely speak their mind to supervisors. They are ambitious to the point of annoyance.
  2. They are not willing to kill themselves on the job. Their loyalty to family and friends comes before their loyalty to the companies they work for. They are quick to quit their jobs if they don't like them. Work-Life balance is very important to them.
  3. Gen-Y is electronically astute, well-versed in computers, and very fond of their laptops, iPods, iPhones, digital cameras and cell phones.
  4. Into yoga, hip clothes, wellness, fitness, expensive coffees and other beverages. A fitness and wellness center at the place of work is considered a bonus.
  5. Accustomed to diversity and inclusion, race is not really an issue.
  6. May not carry the trappings of previous generations like designer watches (because cell phones can display time) but may have tattoos and piercings.
  7. Eager participants in YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Friendster.
  8. They are fairly optimistic, have super-size expectations, do not slack off, and have the potential for becoming high performers.
  9. Accustomed to diversity and inclusion, race is not really an issue. One out of three is a minority in the Gen-Y group. If you notice carefully, Generation Y members are very tolerant towards multiculturism and internationalism, having a wide range of friends from other ethnic groups.
  10. Girls, along with boys, watch sports and play videogames.
  11. It is not surprising that they want to constantly live in the present, their philosophy having been shaped by the Columbine shootings and 9/11/01.
  12. Self-image and self-esteem are high on their list.
  13. They were rarely spanked by their Baby Boomer parents for discipline.
  14. It is a constantly coached generation, in academia and sports.
  15. Competition to get into good colleges has ramped up and career planning is important to them to attain a good life in the future.
  16. Educational debts have skyrocketed. Money seems to be a great motivator partly because of these debts.
  17. Many fly back into the nest after college graduation, mostly for economic reasons.
  18. The "Whys?" asked by Gen-Yers should not be taken as an affront to authority.
  19. Their median age for marriage has shifted to the high 20's and low 30's.
  20. Contact with parents and parental involvement is higher than with previous generations. On the flip side, helicopter parents may be hindering maturity development and social programs of Gen-Y children.
  21. Advice of parents is sought before accepting a job offer. In some cases, recruiters wine and dine moms and dads along with the prospective candidates.
  22. Gen-Y appears to be more depressed and medicated, giving it a title of the "Sad Generation".
  23. Some sociologists and psychologists feel that Generation Y has not been subjected to sufficient struggles and sacrifices in life to mature them for tough decision-making.
  24. Gen-Yers take their personal vision for the workplace very seriously: true commitment with words and actions, shared humanistic values, social interaction with colleagues, a participative management style, and a flattened-pyramid management structure.
  25. The old adage, "people do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care" has special significance for Generation Y. Retention of Gen-Y workers may sound very basic, but it can be summed up in three words: nurturing, encouraging and rewarding them.
  26. A personal relationship with an immediate supervisor is important to them, and breeds long-term loyalty.
  27. Micromanaging is out and responding promptly to their ideas is in.
  28. Gen-Yers like to see their milestone dates celebrated every year, for example, the date they joined their company and their birthdays.
  29. Providing business cards to new employees from the very first day, allowing them to shadow their supervisors and mentors, and inviting them to important meetings to observe from the sidelines are not gimmicks but loyalty builders from the start.
  30. Gen-Yers enjoy internal networking at softball leagues, barbecues, and happy hours.
  31. They have a high capacity for thinking outside the box and solving problems. Companies that give Gen-Yers a free rein reap immense benefits.
  32. Multitasking (which I find difficult to understand and do) is more their norm and brings out greater creativity.
  33. A sense of entitlement and neediness exists in the Gen-Y group, based on comments and observations from people outside this group. Gen-Yers think they are 'special' and make no apologies about it.
  34. The best is yet to come! Give Gen-Yers a long rein and you will find a group of well-educated, energetic, optimistic, compassionate, and results-oriented people.
  35. You may find it surprising to know that many Gen-Yers are more likely to be interested in where they want to live than in the actual job they are trained to do. Quality of life is an overriding consideration in many cases and paramount.
  36. Their preference is to live in places where it is relatively clean, physical safety is assured, the vegetation is lush with public parks, and the environment is culturally rich.
  37. Recent studies of migration patterns of Gen-Y shows the attractiveness of the following places: Las Vegas, Nevada; Austin, Texas; Phoenix, Arizona; Atlanta, Georgia; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Salt Lake City, Utah; Portland, Oregon; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Greensboro-Winston Salem, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California.
  38. The "Whys?" asked by Gen-Yers should not be taken as an affront to authority. Their curiosity button is just turned up full volume and maybe they want to know why you do certain things in a certain way so they can learn from you.
  39. They like immediacy for their answers and it behooves us to accept and use technology to this end, as best as we can.
  40. Gen-Yers have to some extent bred fierce independence, growing up almost alone in two-parent working families. They usually approach you with a problem and a potential solution attached to it. This is a cause for commendation and should not be mistaken for arrogance.
  41. If you give them some authority, you will pleasantly reap the benefit of their increased loyalty. Besides, you will contribute to their becoming astute decision-makers and good managers in the future, thus benefiting all parties concerned.
  42. They thrive on change.
  43. The best is yet to come! Give Gen-Yers a long rein and you will find a group of well-educated, energetic, optimistic, compassionate, and results-oriented people.
  44. Opinions on gay rights and gender roles have also been redefined and readjusted by Gen-Yers.
  45. Major cultural markers for Gen-Yers are The Simpsons, Harry Potter, and social networking websites such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, and Friendster. Culturally they are tied in with Britney Spears, Kurt Cobain, Beyonce, Serena Williams, Prince William and Marilyn Manson.
  46. It would be unwise to overgeneralize the characteristics of Gen-Y. A few of them will blend the characteristics and take the path followed by Gen-X, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists.
  47. A very astute female psychotherapist had told me almost 16 years ago in 1995 that Baby Boomers should not worry about their Generation Y children. She had experienced and sensed even then that Gen-Y would set the pace and become the leaders for technology development within their families. Gen-Yers had their plans and goals which they did not wish to share with their Baby Boomer parents. When I think of those observations today, I can attest to you that they were prophetic and well on the mark!
In summary, for greatest effectiveness as a team, I would stress the following with Baby Boomers who usually supervise Generation Y.

Gen-Y is turned on by:
  • Giving them authority with responsibility
  • Freedom to think and act outside the box
  • Work-Life balance
  • Fitness and wellness programs
  • Multitasking
  • Nurturing, encouragement and rewards
  • Money
  • Participative management style
  • Social interactions with colleagues
  • Shared humanistic values
  • Personal relationship with the immediate supervisor
  • Pleasant living surroundings with high quality of life
Gen-Y is turned off by:
  • Micromanagement
  • Failure to give quick feedback
  • Ignoring their suggestions
  • Not providing answers to their "Whys?"
  • Not accepting the use of appropriate technologies
       Image of Generation Y people

  Food for the Soul: The Nobel Prize  
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), the rich Swedish inventor of dynamite and the creator of the Nobel Prize, had a rude awakening. His brother had died but the newspapers, in error, reported his death and published his obituary, which they had prepared in advance. They stated that he was known for creating the most destructive force known to mankind, dynamite. He was so shocked about what people thought about him, that he decided to change his public image and do something for humanity. He decided that he didn't want his family name remembered for destruction.

In 1866 Nobel had invented dynamite and built up companies and laboratories in more than 20 countries all over the world. Not only did he hold more than 350 patents, he also wrote poetry and drama and seriously considered becoming a writer.

While science had built the foundation for Nobel's own activities as a technological researcher and inventor, efforts to promote peace had always been close to his heart. As a result, he began thinking about giving away his fortune as a means to recognize those that have made significant contributions in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. The prize for economics was added later on. The prize for peace was to be awarded to the person who "shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding of peace congresses."

Don Sutaria, also known as "Career Doctor Don", is Founder and President of CareerQuest. He has been quoted frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, on radio and television and has taught at various colleges. He is the author of Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career is a Pathway to Your Soul!).

Don Sutaria, M.S., I.E. (Prof.)   
Phone: (908) 686-8400     Fax: (908) 686-8400 (on request)     Cell: (908) 377-9015   
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