I hoped this article, written by a member of Generation-Y, would spark a heated discussion, on his site. Unfortunately, it created a forum for people to question his facts, but not offer any alternative thoughts. Sadly, I suspect it will continue to degenerate into a list of “I know you are, but what am I,” “you’re WRONG,” or “______ you” comments, so I brought the discussion over here, so we could delve into it with a little more in depth.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of Generation X. I received extensive human resources training in generational differences in the workplace, but I am a product of my generation and it certainly impacts by world view. I identify with many of the characteristics ascribed to my generation: independent, due to being a latch key kid; suspicious and mistrusting of companies/corporations, after seeing many of my friends’ parents lose their jobs in the 1980s and 1990s; comfortable in a diverse workplace (and world), and place a great emphasis on work/life balance. I work to live, not live to work. I am also aware that we are not one of the larger generations (population-wise). I graduated college in 1991 and in the mid-1990s returned to advise a couple of student organizations, at the same university, as a volunteer.
For the past eight years, I have noticed a growing disconnect with the students. I knew I was “aging out,” or identifying more with their parents, than the students themselves. Every year I felt as if we were growing apart, even though I tried to keep up with their cultural trends and interests. This year, however, the gap became too great. I knew it was time to move on, when my patience dwindled to nothing.
One of the minor reasons I stopped advising college students, was that I felt they were too “fragile.” The women I worked with directly, learned quickly, that I never minced words. To some, it was a rude awakening. Some rose to the occasion immediately upon being treated as an adult. Others did not, and discovered the “joys” of personal accountability, or cleaning up one’s messes. I may have been the adviser, but ultimately, they were responsible for decisions made. Time after time, I was impressed by these women, but they seemed to be the exception, not the norm.
When I read Eddie Cuffin’s article it resonated with me, because it hit upon many of the things I witnessed, not the least of which was a delayed emotional maturity. At that moment, I knew my “honesty is the best policy”….well, brutal honesty, in my case, would not work with the newest generation and it was an opportunity for someone else to take my place. I was also exhausted of being “misinterpreted,” “translated” or worse, “watered-down” to make my words less harsh to delicate Generation-Y egos. So, I moved on, but left with a sense that there was unfinished business and that I never really understood the newest 18-20-year-olds.
Generation-Y followers, do any of the ideas brought forth in this article resonate with you? What about my Generation X and Baby Boomer followers, what have you observed? Please share!