Don't get me wrong. If you work hard and leapfrog over dead weight, more power to you. The problem I have is how these brats begin their careers with not only that expectation, but an attitude to match.
These folks are making a steady showing in the workplace but their presence also creates a new generation of problems. Recruitment and retention has to be more creative not only for the continuing labor shortage but to accommodate this new breed of babies.
Here are their main concerns:
- How big is my office, does it have a window?
- When and how large will my first raise be?
- How long have you been in your job? (Trust me, you don't want my job and if stealing it is on your mind, I will hand it over faster than my car keys to a carjacker)
- Which fruit bowl should I bring to meeting? Seriously, if anyone reading this regularly eats food in a meeting, STOP. Unless it is a working lunch, it's nasty watching someone eat, especially if they talk while eating.
How to spot one of these Gen Y folks:
- They look young enough to still be riding a school bus.
- They work their lives around their interests, not work or family. When I was pregnant, one of these types was hired. When she started, she asked me when I was starting my maternity leave. Apparently my large midsection didn't mesh with her idea of an ideal work environment. I now realize how seniors feel about people asking them when they are going to move into a senior community.
- They act like they know everything and love to brag about all the opportunities they have gotten. My response? "Those are great opportunities when you are getting started. A perfect way to get your feet wet." Aren't I a bitch? They ask for it.
- They are annoying little bundles of energy who bounce down halls proclaiming "Good Morning" at 7:00 a.m.
- They love talking about how they go to the gym in the middle of the night before work.
- They think they are going to rise to the top. While I admire their optimism, they have a lot to learn. Nothing replaces good old experience and they are lacking it. They remind me of those professors I had in college who really were professional students. I learned fairly quickly to take night classes so I could learn something from those with the ability to teach and do the job.
- They act like they have a big secret. Of course this big secret is they believe everyone is in awe of them and without their presence, this place would be a sinking ship. While their spunk may energize an office and they are told they are doing "GREAT' in their careers, they have a long way to go. When the going gets tough, they are not at the top of the go-to list. Of course they don't see this because they are too busy eating a bowl of fruit.
I love sitting in team meetings with these fireballs. When a complex topic is raised and they are out of their league, I 'd love to put one of these children on the spot. Could I say, "Once Marcia stops eating, she can enlighten all of us."
Once in a while, one of them will "contribute to the conversation." It starts with a condescending giggle or eye roll that insinuates how easy the solution is. I love watching them spew out a oversimplified "fix" to a complex problem.
While I don't speak with the sole purpose of humiliating them, it's not difficult to have something worthwhile to contribute. After all, I am an experienced HR professional, right? A big factor in these scenarios is whether they tried to humiliate someone else to make themselves look better. It's a two for one. Teach them a lesson, solve the problem.
So, at those times, I throw out a few options (those of us in the experienced column realize there is seldom one option) and back it up with reasonable explanations.
Then I sit back, return the fruit-glazed glare from across the table, and feel a sense of accomplishment for the day.