BRYCE ON GENERATION Y
– Can they really save America?
As you grow older you begin to notice small changes in your life, such as how advertisers no longer market to your age group, or how the entertainment field no longer caters to you. Consequently, you begin to find it difficult to find anything of interest on television or at the movies. Instead, you begin to read more, watch the news and perhaps some reruns before calling it a night. Your sense of fashion and style changes, as does your purchasing decisions. It finally becomes crystal clear that everything is being geared to a younger generation, not yours. In other words, you feel the world passing you by, which I can only presume to be a natural phenomenon.
If you haven’t already noticed, corporate marketing efforts are taking aim at the Millennials, those between the ages of early 20’s to 30. This group, which is also known as “Generation Y”, has surpassed the Baby Boomers and “Generation X” (early 30’s to 40’s), for marketing attention. The over 40 crowd is considered “has beens” and businesses, the media and politicians are gearing up for the Millennials instead. The big question though is, how will they respond?
Like every generation, the Millennials exhibit unbridled enthusiasm in the work place. There are lots of genuinely creative and hard working people in this group. My concern for them is threefold though: First, they are notoriously low informed in terms of current events. Thanks to technology, they may know the latest fads, fashions, music, and sports, but most do not stay abreast of current events. Second, there appears to be no sense of history, be it world, national, local, or professional. Third, parenting and management skills have deteriorated over the years. “Helicopter parents” either kept their offspring on a short leash or abdicated their parental responsibilities altogether thereby offering no direction. In business, the trend is towards micromanagement which frustrates employee motivation, and arrests growth.
These three elements are reflected in the Millenials decision making capabilities. If you are poorly informed and have no sense of history, you are likely to waste considerable time reinventing the wheel. Further, if you do not understand the world around you, in all likelihood you will waste considerable time working on the wrong things. There is also an inclination to concentrate on quick and dirty solutions as opposed to producing quality work products. Energy and zeal is one thing, making smart decisions is something else.
Consequently, I am becoming very much concerned with the Millennials assuming their role in society. Instead, we are grooming a generation of robots who will be afraid to accept responsibility, and do as they are instructed, be it from their managers or the media. I fear their ambition and entrepreneurial spirit has been broken and they will work harder, but not necessarily smarter.
Consider this about the Millennials:
* Their sense of history only goes as far back as President George W. Bush (with a twinkling of Clinton thrown in). This means they have no real grasp of the Cold War, Viet Nam, or the first Iraq war. Some do not even have a recollection of 9-11.
* Education is now more about testing and lockdowns as opposed to teaching. They have been programmed to test, not to learn.
* They cannot imagine life without their smart phones and have developed a serious addiction to technology. Without it, they are disconnected from society.
* Most have huge college debts, and many still live at home with their parents.
This sounds more like we are breeding a generation of sheep as opposed to shepherds. Then again, maybe this is precisely what business, the media and politicians are hoping for, a generation of people who can be easily manipulated; people who will purchase goods on demand, or vote for someone or something without question. Sounds kind of scary to me. I guess I’ll just stick to my reading and reruns.
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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