Generation Mash-Up – Y Bother?

This article was first published in the People’s Insights magazine The Future of Employee (Re)Engagement, and is re-published below.

Gen Y Gen X

The conversation around Gen Y workers has largely focused around the differences – how they are vastly different from Gen X and even more from the Baby Boomers. Today, the conversations is shifting from differences to potential synergies – how can the generations work together and indeed, compliment each other?

MSLGROUP’s CEO Olivier Fleurot has blogged about baby boomers, Millennials and how large companies that depend on Generation Y talent need to change. In December 2012, he questioned, “Are GenYers and Baby-Boomer compatible?”:

 “Well organized hierarchy, control and command, and a top-down approach were and are still the dominant organizational models. Baby-boomers could envisage working for 30 years in the same company. But GenYers have lost trust in any official form of authority, as expressed by traditional organizations, companies, and governments…

“GenYers tend to prefer smaller companies, start-ups and NGOs that have a very different and “cool” appeal. They want real responsibility earlier. They don’t like to be taught, they prefer the pull mode to the push mode. They go to work places where influence and collaborative work is more powerful than hierarchy, where innovation and new ideas are welcome. They want to work in companies that have a real purpose …

“Are we going to see a clash of two generations at the expense of the future development of existing companies?”

GenXers responded to his post suggesting that they, the Gen X, would make for a good bridge between the generations. Yet the session ‘Millennials: How to Manage the Gen X Boss” emerged at SXSW Interactive 2013, implying that the three generations may simply be too different.

As the panel description said, ‘Baby Boomers have a team orientation, respect hierarchy and are likely to be workaholics. GenXers, the original “Who Cares” generation, are self-reliant and pragmatic. They believe in doing a job without needing daily praise and feedback.”

And as Olivier noted: ‘GenYers have their own perspective on the planet and its sustainability, on the way companies are run, on decisions-making processes and the very meaning and purpose of work.’

In March 2013, he called for synergies across all generations in the post “A New Challenge for CEOs”:

 “With their complimentary skills and drivers, each of these generations has a huge amount to offer any organization today. The challenge to any CEO – be s/he a Baby Boomer, Gen X or indeed a millennial – is how to maximize those individuals’ potential, and how to do so in harmonious, mutually respectful teams.”

Now, he gears up to answers to the question “How should millennials be managed” at SXSW Interactive 2014 with none other than the Gen Y CEO of Mashable Pete Cashmore.

Gen Mashup

Olivier and Pete are from different generations, have different styles and their own strong opinions on the values Gen Y brings to the world of business, how to manage the Gen Y geniuses in their midst and how millennials are changing business.

  • How is Gen Y changing the world of business?
    At the end of the day, what will be the legacy of Gen Y in the workplace? Will it be about their innovation around new technology? Will it be about how they build new businesses? Will it be how they apply social influence to drive business success?
  • How has Gen Y’s preference for communicating across social media changed the workplace?
    Is the technology isolating, or does it build a stronger workplace community? How should companies approach internal social media systems? How can these be deployed for greater collaboration, speed and growth? How do companies manage the downside of social systems at work?
  • What’s the perception about Gen Y vs. the real deal?
    Is the media to blame for creating the belief that millennials are self-absorbed, validation-seeking and sorely lacking in any work ethic? Or, is there truth to this theory? Where is the line between myth and reality when it comes to Gen Y?
  • How can employers bottle the special sauce that Gen Y brings to work each day and use it to spice up their business?
    GenYers are known for being tech-savvy, family-centric, achievement-oriented and team players. How do employers work with these attributes to create a next-generation workplace? What do older colleagues think of all this? Are they swinging to the Gen Y tunes or resisting change?
  • Is Gen Y simply better at creating and building new businesses?
    There have been many who have done like Pete, and built an amazing business from their bedroom or dorm room. How different is this from previous generations? Are GenYers freer thinkers and less beholden to stodgy social norms? Is technology the vehicle of freedom that their forebears never had? To be successful, what kind of help must Gen Yes get from those in other generations?

Save the date: Generation Mash-Up: Y Bother? @ SWSXi 2014, March 7 – 11 at Austin Texas.

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MSLGROUP People's Lab

People’s Lab is MSLGROUP’s proprietary crowdsourcing platform & approach that helps organizations tap into people’s insight for innovation & change.

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