As I typically do, I save some valuable emails for later review, and I awoke this morning to coffee and a read of my Gurteen Knowledge-Newsletter.......December 2008 (well, at least it was 2008...I have older emails saved for a rainy day).
I have been trying to get my focus back on the knowledgeworker, and away from technology, and so his link to Chris Brogen's blog of an article by Teresa Wu caught my attention: Generation Y in the Workplace Explained. It sounded like something that would be useful.
It's a brief article, so I don't want to pilfer too much of her content, but it highlights 5 key attributes of the Gen-Y knowledgeworker. These are observations that I think most of us have seen, but not clearly delineated, and I think this adds some insight into today's (and particularly tomorrow's) workforce. So here's what I got out of it.
They pursue unconventional paths. This is described in two ways: The most easily seen is that the new generation seems to have multiple jobs, or at least aspirations to work for a business during the day and have their own business going at night (or are at least thinking about it, imaging it). Or, in recessionary times (shrinking job market), they are still willing to explore other options.
They value company culture. Gen-Y is looking for bosses who are mentors, and co-workers who are friends, and a place to enjoy working.
They are not afraid to ask. This one has made me cringe more than once - but also admire. Gen-Yers ask for what they want and often asks difficult and probing questions that makes a boomer like me uncomfortable. That said, it's a desirable trait, and marries nicely with the next attribute.
They embrace transparency. This is an interesting one. Organizationally, transparency is obviously the best policy. What Teresa Wu points out is that the Gen Y knowledgeworker embraces transparency fully, including in their personal lives, indicating that the youth of today will grow up with their entire lives documented online through blogs, twitter, Facebook, My Space, etc. She boldly states, "employers must learn to judge job applicants not by their past but by what they can bring to the company." As someone who has hired hundreds of employees, managers and executives, I certainly agree with that in concept...I've Googled some people, done authorized background checks, but have not yet done a MySpace and Facebook checks. This one, I think, will be hotly debated in HR circles.
They just want to do what we love. Gen-Y wants their dream job...who can blame them. There's enough reports available to support that if you do what you love, you'll do it better and faster. But Wu notes, "as long as our careers provide both the opportunities and rewards we thirst for, we'll be more than willing to invest serious time and energy into our work. If you can give us that, we'll be star performers."
When I consider my years of HR management experience and being a devote and practitioner of some aspects of KM, this is a thought provoking view of the emerging workforce worthy of further understanding.