While I’m not a degreed historian, I think it’s safe to say that every society in human history has had some sort of “what’s wrong with kids these days?” vibe running through it and has experienced some degree of friction, confusion, and misunderstanding between the different generations. As a corollary, I also suspect most of us have failed to acknowledge our own hypocrisy, at times, and realized that we were just as mysterious and rebellious in the eyes of our parents as our own kids seem to be to us now.
And yet, some would say that today’s younger generation — the Millennials, Generation Z, or what have you — are truly cut from different cloth and that many young people today are growing up far less prepared for the workforce than generations past. Or, at the very least, that they have an attitude about the working world that’s starkly different than that of the generations that came before them.
Agree or disagree, it’s a pretty interesting discussion. And given that I’m finding myself working more and more with younger professionals these days, I’m paying increased attention to some of the new dynamics, attitudes, and values about work that the Millennial generation brings to the table. I’m doing this not only so I can advise these individuals properly about their career planning efforts, but also so that I can help older workers learn to work with these younger generations more effectively — as well as work FOR them and have more success in the interview process in those instances they find a person half their age sitting across the desk, evaluating them.
Along these lines, I recently came across the video clip below from workplace expert Simon Sinek who presents some of the most profound theories and arguments I’ve ever heard on this topic. So for those interested in learning more about multi-generational career thinking, and who haven’t already seen this clip, I’d strongly encourage you to set aside 15 minutes or so to watch it. I thought it was riveting. I also thought that much of what Mr. Sinek says in this video rings true. In addition to explaining why he feels cell phones and technology have literally changed the brain chemistry of young adults, he also brainstorms the potential “solutions” that society and organizations might adopt to help younger folks become more engaged in their careers — and to get the different generations within an organization working together in more harmonious fashion.
So again, if you’ve got a few moments to spare, give this clip a watch:
Thoughts? Reactions? Impressions of the video? Do you think Simon has uncovered some genuine “gold nuggets” regarding the attitudes and behaviors of younger workers today — or is this just another case of older folks being grumpy and simply failing to appreciate a different point of view than their own? I’d truly love to hear arguments on both sides of this issue (younger clients and readers, please weigh in!) and if anyone has some other good suggestions and experience in addressing this issue.
If nothing else, I’ll confess I’ve had two brief experiences lately that make me think there’s a wider gulf between the upcoming generation and the traditional, older workforce than there used to be. First, I had a person recently introduce me to a new verb called adulting that involves coaches/counselors helping young people learn to live independently and “grow up” so to speak. Apparently it’s a big deal (click here to read some articles on it) and the concept has just never hit my radar before. Additionally, and more anecdotally, one of my clients recently told me she interviewed for a job and didn’t end up landing it — and when she told her teenage daughter, the daughter asked “so what did you get for 2nd place?” Not sure if the story was exaggerated for effect, but if not, it certainly is in line with some of the perceptions that older workers have about younger people these days… :)
Again, I don’t think any of these behaviors are good or bad, right or wrong. They are what they are. But I definitely want to understand the different career perspectives out there to the best degree I can, across different age cohorts, given the increasing age diversity of my practice. All input and observations welcome!