I just read a few articles that are related to Gen Y, and… they made me think (happens from time to time).
First Forbes.com has two success-stories of comparably young women who moved quickly into senior positions. 21-year-old Star Hughes became a business executive (ok, just real estate :-P) and Christine Park became a senior designer at Cadillac by the age of 28.
Even though these are great and inspiring examples of what could be achieved by representatives of certain groups (here women and GenY) I would technically challenge the relevance of their ‘lessons learned’. For two reasons it is just statistically invalid to take one single person’s career and extrapolate common rules or advices for everyone. This might also be one of the reasons why there seems to be the need for so many “success biographies” out there. I prefer statistically hard-wired models such as the works of Jim Collins. Second, in case of the 21 year-old Star Hughes it is also intrapersonal very dare to already derive a pattern of success as the time span and repetition of successful behaviors is just too small.
But these are just general scientific observations. Coming back to Gen Y (and beyond), based on these examples and the expectations they might raise:
- What will be their career look like in 15 years?
- Despite their single careers, will there be enough senior positions for all the remaining Gen X-ers, the Gen Y and the upcoming Gen Re (or whatever you like to call them)?
- If not (which is likely), will they really be satisfied with “blended lifestyles” and moving into lower paid, lower status jobs? Not everyone can open a coffee shop and lower paid jobs are usually less fun but not necessarily less stress.
There is a lot of research out there that tells us that the way we (they) work will change dramatically. I just wonder if there is also a lot of unrealistic and not- selffulfilling prophecy raised by pushing this too much (also with these kinds of role-models).
Also, there is a list of ten prejudices (?) about Gen Y by Randall S. Hansen from Quintessential Careers. The list includes arguments, why there might be some truth in these perceptions or not and what the reasons for one or the other might be. I like the list and it is quite congruent to all the research done out there. Maybe you first think a while about these perceptions before you follow the link below:
- Poor Work Ethic
- Little Respect for Authority
- Too Self-Centered and Individualistic
- Overinflated/Unrealistic Expectations
- Not Committed to Work
- No Loyalty to Employers
- Lacking in Social Skills
Update: Yesterday I gave a presentation in front of HR professionals about demographical change etc. One of the participants shared the observation that some of the GenY-ers (and beyond) show “typical” traits with regards to career, blended lifestyles, etc. But they seem to feel pressured (by peers, parents or just by knowing what is expected from their generation) towards behaving this way, which causes significant stress. I haven’t been aware of that, but it perfectly links to this post – and examples like the two above might also contribute to this external pressure.
- Gen Y Infographics – reloaded (German – but the infographics are all English)
- How Gen Y is changing HR (genejanssen.wordpress.com)
- Gen Y, the new Thought Leaders! (driven.pkmenon.com)
- What are characteristics of Gen Y? (essencetalent.wordpress.com)
- Five myths about Gen Y workers (theglobeandmail.com)
- Influential Gen Y girls (woman.com.au)