Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Message To Gen Y

Recently Ryan Healy, of whom I am a fan, wrote a post on called A Message To Gen X. When I read it, I thought, oooh Ryan is going to get quite the backlash on this one.

What I got from the article is that 1) Gen Xers think Gen Y is lazy 2) The workforce is catering to Gen Y because there are a lot of them, they are tech savvy, and they have teamwork, which is pissing off Gen X and 3) Gen Xers should just stop being so negative and let Gen Y make the workforce a better place. Okay, that may have kind of my spin on it. You may want to read it yourself.

Anyway, I didn't mind the article but I was surprised by it. Not by Ryan. By the Gen Xers. I really thought he'd get more flack. Then I realized something: Gen Xers don't fight back.

Here's the thing about Gen Xers: We don't think a well-crafted argument will change a person's mind once they've decided their opinion. You need to catch them before the opinion is formed. We weathered the 90s and learned to work with the Boomers. We did this by not arguing. Xers still do this. Listen to what your boss wants and then do what you want to do anyway. Most times, you can do this without the boss even knowing it. It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

So what's the result? I think the Gen Xers are quietly leading the workforce into the 21st Century. We're mentoring the oldest Millennials and parenting the youngest ones. Millennials may be the doers, but the Xers are the leaders.

So it really doesn't matter if the Millennials jump on the Babyboomer "Down with X" bandwagon. We're tough. We can take it.


Kristina said...

Et tu, Gen Y?

We get it coming and going, don't we?

Good post!

Anonymous said...

Your perspective really hit home for me. I find that trying to "argue" my point with my boomer boss only gets me a lecture and the hand in my face if I try interject. It became apparent to me that I needed to understand their needs, and then do it my way. I often repeat the "its easier to ask forgiveness" card as I mentor others.

Do not get me wrong. I am passionate and articulate. I can and will argue issues and stand my ground when I see the need, but I pick my battles. Often the style or process in which my boss wants me to proceed is far outside of what I believe is necessary, and they've given me no valid reasons to jump on the bandwagon. Thanks for being a sane Xer who is leading the pack!

Carla S. said...

I found your blog from your post on Ryan's article, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. I've been writing a bit about Gen X vs Y vs boomers myself (check out

I thought your comment about our complacency to just take it, based on putting up with the boomers all this time, was right on the money too.



Anonymous said...

We are the small generation sandwiched between two very large generations that seem largely disinterested in us.

Frankly, that is why we tend to be more subversive.

Mark my words, GenX will go down as the embodiment of "Age and treachery will always defeat youth and idealism".

That is mostly hyperbole.


Rob said...

Dunno that I can agree that Gen Y people have teamwork. From what I've seen, they're entirely too self-centered to be a part of any team for long. They carry with them an air of entitlement that's just astounding in its audacity. They seem to exude, "Well, I'm here. What are you ready to do for me?" when their workday begins - which is almost always late.

Anonymous said...

Right on, arguing about it is just not worth the breath.

I must admit, I am so sick of hearing all the bad things about GenX. First it was compared to the Boomers and now it is compared to the Millenials.

I like your interpretation much better, "...Gen Xers are quietly leading the workforce into the 21st Century."