Sunday, February 17, 2008

Awakening the Millennial Within

We've all heard about what pains our young friends in GenY are. We call them Gen Why? or Gen Whine, and note how much attention they seem to require in the work place. GenX folks like me have also observed how many of them there are and are maybe a little concerned that if we don't get it together they might could eat our lunch in a few years if the Baby Boom ever (ever) retires.

But frankly, there is a lot to be learned from these demanding Millennials. What they are demanding in the workplace -- meaning in their work through good projects for a good cause, a low Bozo Factor from management, good value (e.g. money) in exchange for their time, prompt , thoughtful feedback -- these are good things, really. Why doesn't GenX demand this from their work, too?

These kids value their time highly, and they walk into job interviews with that attitude. They are not going to work 70 hours a week unless they are really passionate about something. It just won't happen. Some people see this as not wanting to pay their dues, but honestly, why do any of us pay our dues? Do we really want to belong to a club that's built on extracting as much labor as possible from people who aren't in a position to say no?

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I am determined to put more pressure on myself to demand the things I want from a workplace. I don't know if it means going to work in flip-flops more often, or what, exactly. Maybe I'm just going to open my eyes more, see what is right and what is wrong, and start making the changes that are needed. Maybe I'll embrace the idea that I'm done talking myself into jobs that don't engage every single part of my brain and make me feel like I'm running a marathon (you know, it's really, almost impossibly hard but I feel an immense sense of accomplishment at the end of the race).

I guess I'm saying that I won't be making big compromises for the workplace any more. I will deliver enormous value for every penny they pay me. I will take their mission as my own. (Didn't I just say that is one of my conditions working there? If I don't believe in what you're doing, I'm not going to be a part of it.) In return, I ask that the workplace respect my individuality and intellect and make best use of it. That's not so hard, is it?

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