Every time I talk about things regarding ‘back in the day…’ I start to sound like that old guy who yells at kids to get off his lawn. If there is anything universal I think it’s old people complaining about young people. And I have done my fair share for sure. I often get invited to come talk to groups about Generation Y and how to integrate them into the workforce and into organizations. I have had the distinct pleasure of working with thousands of young people for a decade, both teaching them and hiring them to work in my own organization. Â And I have seen over the past decade how technology has transformed a generation of kids, and it hasn’t all been positive. I have written about it alot, I have spoken about it alot, and I have come to believe alot of things about Generation Y. And in at least one aspect, Generation Y kids are better than I ever was.
The other day my 14 year old son was talking to my mother. Â Just chit chatting mind you, nothing really serious. I happened to be nearby and started listening to their conversation. Â “So how are you doing? How are things going?” This is what my son asks my mother. They then began to talk about how my mother was doing. He sat at her feet, looked in her eyes, and concentrated on what she was saying, showing genuine interest. And that is where Generation Y is different.
You see, Generation Y has some big problems. They spend too much time exhibiting ‘continuous partial attention’ so they never go very deep on much of anything. Â They must be constantly entertained and are easily bored. They need constant praise and attention. They are demanding about the things they want and are very impatient. But they are also very concerned for others, about how they feel, and they care deeply for others. They don’t judge others and are more accepting of others. And that can’t be said by too many from my generation.
I can’t remember the last time that I sat at my mom’s feet and just concentrated on her. I am always busy. I always have someplace to go and things to do. Yeah, I constantly hear the words ‘And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon’ ringing in my head. My 14 year old son instinctively knows how much my mom needs that. He doesn’t question why she thinks the things she does or argue with her. He just accepts her, listens to her even when she moans and complains, and by his actions shows her that he cares about her. And he isn’t alone. Many Generation Y kids are the same way.
Generation Y has their own baggage to carry, some of which was probably placed there by the way that we raised them, but one thing is for sure: I can learn a lesson or two, or three, from them.