gen y meets gen x

A blog post… finally! Well I actually wrote on the Elevated HR’s blog, but I felt it was relevant to this audience too.

I’ll blog about boys and life soon. ;) Promise. xo

Random Gen Y Thoughts I

By Jillian Walker, Vice President, Client Experience of Elevated HR Solutions

A few days ago Michelle blogged on generational differences within our team. We generally talk about blog topics, which range from trends in industry to client concerns to tales of an HR start-up. She did not tell me she was going to write on generations!!

Immediately I thought…” man…. this is going to be her go-live of how Gen Y (myself included) are a pain in the ass.” Instead, it was a refreshing reflective post on who she is as a person and how that impacts a work environment.

I am often quoted saying “I am the Wikipedia definition of Generation Y.” I’m not interested in work/life balance, instead I want work/life flexibility. I have no desire to work in a corporate downtown office, nor work a typical 8am-5pm schedule. I can’t imagine being in one role long-term, unless it continually evolved. The thought of being with a company forever makes me want to puke. Do I imagine myself having multiple careers in my lifetime? Absolutely. I want to empower youth on an international level, start a non-profit and teach in universities.

Can I understand why colleagues and peers might be frustrated with me? Hell yes.

Today I read an interesting post by Gary Schlee titled “10 Characteristics of Generation Me.” His post was based on the book, Generation Me by Jean Twenge. The characteristics are defined as the following:

  • Generation Direct
  • Generation Self-Esteem
  • Generation Entitlement
  • Generation Thin Skin
  • Generation Dream-The-Impossible-Dream
  • Generation Get-An-Education
  • Generation Don’t-Want-To-Be-Bored
  • Generation It’s-Not-My-Fault
  • Generation Tough-To-Make-A-Living
  • Generation Can’t-Change-A-Thing

Twenge’s book has been given a lot of kudos in industry because it is based on research and psychology. Do I feel that I fit every aspect of the above characteristics? Not at all. I’m open – ridiculously open. Transparency is key. I’m self-confident, but I feel that I was groomed to be that way throughout my teen years. As for criticism? I often have the “I’m always right” attitude – and hopefully, mentors like Michelle, will continually show me that I have room for growth and can’t always be right. ;) I place a lot of importance on education and continual learning. I know that I will get my Master’s degree and learn a second language. I am busy. I thrive on busy, but not burnout.

I put my heart in people and believe that they can be anything they want to be.

Dream big is a philosophy not a nice-to-have.

In Michelle’s post, she stated personal goals, which for the most part relate to work behaviours. If anyone were to ask my goals. The first thing I would say is:  doing what I love, giving back to the community, travel and making a difference in this big bad world. It wouldn’t even cross my mind to think in the present or as narrow as what are my plans in the next 30 days.

I thrive in a structured, supportive environment. As much as I am an ‘ideas’ and creative person, I need focus in my day to day work. I like to be involved in decision making and thrive in an environment where learning is based on application. I am a visual learner and somewhat unlike my generation – I prefer paper over electronic.

In the workplace, I have always felt that it’s been me against the world. I am used to explaining to managers and colleagues that change is needed and that we must think differently. Time and time again, I’ve been told to put down my raised hand and to not ask a question. I have been told my opinion does not matter,  “we’re not prepared to change” and forced to accept defeat.

Now that I have moved from corporate to a start-up — it’s different. I feel that regardless of my opinion being right, it is always respected. I feel like my ideas matter and being creative is a necessary part of our success. I appreciate the fact that I can work from home or that Michelle and I can have a bonding day together at her place. Our culture revolves around making a difference, having fun and saving the world from all the awful HR people out there. [HR renegades at your rescue!] ;) I love that our corporate goals are outlined – we can see the future and the change we will make in our industry. Lastly, I love that our clients choose to work with Elevated. They truly want to make change in their workplaces.

It’s absolutely refreshing.

For whatever reason I have *always* associated myself with the label of Generation Y. In the last few months this label has continually challenged me. I have met people who fall into the years of Gen Y, but who are not even close to fitting the standard definition. What have I realized? Labeling creates expectations. Expectations can lead to disappointment or confusion. Both labeling and expectations do not set people up for success.

I am not Generation Y.

I am me.

I am a crazy, Type A, achievement-oriented me.

Take me or leave me.