For those who read my stuff regularly, you know I’m not a real fan of all the generational talk that goes on in our space – “GenY’s are like this, and Baby Boomers are like that, and GenXers are something totally different…”, blah, blah, blah. It annoys me when people paint broad strokes over an entire population of people – we are in HR – we are the ones who aren’t supposed to be doing this – and yet, we see it more in our space than anywhere else. “But, Tim, there are differences and we need to understand those to manage performance effectively”, I hear what you’re saying. Bullshit. Get to know your people personally – build a relationship – then manage that person – not a persona.
But I digress, half of our staff at FOT is GenY, so let’s give them a trophy – I’m here to introduce you to a GenY professional who is self-proclaimed “Awesome” (that doesn’t fit the stereotype of GenY at all…) – Kayla Cruz – author of the Blog- Lost GenY Girl. More specifically, I’m here to talk with Kayla about a post she wrote recently: Get Bad Employees Off the Freaking Bus: Making Room For GenY. From the post:
”Here’s a question…If there was a person on the bus with a bomb attached to their chest, would you try to find them a different seat? No, you would sniper rifle their ass because they’re putting the bus and everyone else in it in danger. And that’s how it is at work when you have a bad employee. Sometimes, the only solution is to ask them to leave. Think big picture. Think about the overall good of your organization. Get rid of your poor employees and make room for people that want to add value, that want to be there.”
You like, right?!
(Tim – the GenXer) Kayla – love the message of the post, but I think you missed one thing. If I’m going to “sniper” someone’s ass off my team – which I agree needs to be done in many cases – I’m making room for the best possible talent in my organization – not just for GenY. Why do you think GenYers make the best replacement?
(Kayla – The GenYer) You know, Tim, I completely agree with you that you should be making room for the best talent, not just Gen Y. It’s just that the most talented people I know have the following: vision, drive, an obsession with being the best, an interest in making a difference, and an optimistic attitude. GenYers bring with them to the workforce this hunger and this enthusiasm to start their careers. They’re excited about the future, they want to make something of themselves, and most importantly, they haven’t yet been disillusioned by corporate BS. They spend four (and in some cases 5, 7, or 9) years in college getting this wonderfully useless piece of paper called a degree and are anxious to put it to use. Why? Because it would certainly be tragic to think that the amount of work they’ve done has been for nothing. So they’re ready to get started and that energy in and of itself set them apart from more experienced workers.
(Tim) Kayla, Kayla, Kayla – youth is wasted on the young! Energy and a piece of paper aren’t enough to separate you from your more experienced workers – that would be experience – which you get from well working crappy, entry level jobs – LIKE WE DID! We (the old farts) didn’t start out as managers in high paying, cushy jobs – we started out waiting on some old fart who we didn’t think knew what they were talking about. We put in our time (which is more than a few months) and worked our way into a position where the more experienced workers – respected our abilities and viewed us a capable players. It’s not corporate BS – it’s life! For every 22 year old CEO – there are 22,000 62 year old CEOs – that’s reality. They’re CEO because they know more, they’ve seen more and quite frankly they’re better than some kid coming out of college. One question I have for you: Do you think GenXers and Baby Boomers don’t have vision, drive, obsession with being the best, interest in making a difference and a positive attitude?
(Kayla) Hah! I thought we weren’t stereotyping? To answer your question, some of them do. Others don’t. I think at the end of the day, the point that Gen Y is trying to make is that management needs to quit looking at all GenYers as only capable of making copies. Truly innovative PEOPLE, old and young alike, aren’t going to sit around wasting their time at crappy entry level jobs. ESPECIALLY given the number of entrepreneurial opportunities available to them. So instead they’re going to say, “F this. I’m out of here” and just like that, there goes talent that could have been used to better your organization. And who’s going to benefit here? The organizations that look beyond how long we’ve been on this planet. And in regards to experience, it’s been MY experience that HR wrongly associates years in the workforce with the ability to lead others. You can have 40 years of experience in your field, be promoted to management, and SUCK as a leader. Likewise, you can be 25 or 30 or even 17 and possess a firm understanding of what it takes to be successful. Talent, ability, leadership potential, all of those things have one thing in common. They have NOTHING to do with age.
(Tim) You said the magic word “POTENTIAL”! You are right, age has nothing to do with potential. The problem is many of us HR Pros aren’t hiring potential, we are hiring proven talent, proven ability and proven leadership – which you only get through experience – which normally comes with time (age). I do agree with you that HR Pros/leaders need to do more to ensure we are building our future leaders and putting them into situations that let us see if their potential can be reached. But, it’s harder than it looks – we are asked to run lean, do more with less, etc. Providing opportunities for everyone is a difficult task.
I love Kayla’s blinded passion for her generation! Check out her blog Lost GenY Girl and let us know how you feel on this subject in the comments.