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Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation January 1, 2009

Posted by A Texan In Grad School in Uncategorized.
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The Economist takes on Generation Y, or the so-called Millenials (here, here, and here).  I have to say this is the worst reporting I’ve ever seen in The Economist.  I’m a big fan of the magazine, but these three articles should have been put together as one.  For example check out the following passages:

“Net Geners demand far more frequent feedback and an over-precise set of objectives on the path to promotion (rather like the missions that must be completed in a video game).” – Managing the Facebookers

Just as they are used to checking their progress on leader boards when playing video games, so Net Geners want to keep close tabs on their performance at work, too.” -The Rypple Effect

It wouldn’t be nearly as bad if they didn’t use a video game analogy in both statements.  What really bugs me about this set of articles though is that they contradict themselves by later stating that Net Geners have trouble with “command-and-control” management styles (Facebookers & Generation Y Goes to Work).  Personally, I don’t have a problem with open-ended management or command-and-control management.  What I have a problem with is inconsistency.  The Economist demonstrates the type of inconsistency that frustrates my generation.

What The Economist misses is that we are not frustrated with a lack of precision or command-and-control management innately, but rather its poor application.  Often I find that people want to give you a vague description of the goals of your task, then when you complete the project they have a precise set of goals to judge you with.  To me, this shows laziness on the part of the manager.  If you have a clear idea, then tell it to me.  Don’t withhold criteria from me, then use it to criticize me.  Alternatively, managers will use command-and-control for a project, then criticize you for not being creative enough.  Management is a surprisingly difficult skill to master.