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Total Conflicted

Man, I am in a dilemma. A quandary. A predicament.

I’m totally conflicted with the way “we” interact, communicate, and collaborate. (Notice I didn’t say disappointed or disillusioned — just conflicted.)

It all started when I was reading a Business Week survey on Y-gens (section attached below). The article really got me to thinking, or rethinking as I’ve had opportunity to consider this before. And I realize my perspective may be entirely skewed.

I’ve been in the business for a long while now. In fact, I started way back when communication was electrostatic/thermal faxes were cutting edge technology (no laughter please). We had phone calls and face-to-face meetings with our clients. We sent our comps or proofs by courier. And quick a turn-around job was no less than two weeks.

Now fast forward twenty-something years to today — from the twentieth to the twenty first century. Business moves in nanoseconds. For the the X and Y gens, and whatever generation is beyond them, business as usual includes gmail, IM, texting and social networking. Geezers are trying to keep up, but it’s a tremendous paradigm shift. One post-boomer I know can’t get through his day without his Linked-In fix. Another is still trying to work up the nerve to join Facebook.

So here’s my conflict: after participating in both worlds, and embracing the new business communications — as well as investigating newer/broader ways to communicate — I think we maybe missing something. That spark. That “electricity” in the air  when that one-to-one creative breakthrough happens. Missing the nuances of speech and body language. Missing personal interaction.

Our present means of communicating makes it convenient to have any number of conversations simultaneously—in a office, home, here or there. And that’s pretty great. But do we know when someone is out of kilter? Do we know when we’ve been misunderstood? Do we notice when things are starting to go wrong?

Folks steeped in the ways of multi-video conferencing, remotely sharing each other desktop, IM conversations may think this is all humbug. They may feel that work sessions on WebEx may offer every bit of that interpersonal connection and creative high. I don’t know.

But that’s the conflict I face.

I’d love to hear other thoughts. Add them below. Or just ping me.

According to a survey by BusinessWeek of almost 4,000 readers, Generational Tensions ranked in the top 6 issues impacting the workplace. With four generations in the workplace, these issues can grow from tensions to larger generational divides and conflicts. The 2008 Gen Y Perceptions Study, conducted by the Cal State Fullerton Career Center and Spectrum Knowledge, measured how Gen Y views themselves in the workplace in comparison to how the Boomers and Gen X view Gen Y. Some key findings include the following:

Gen Y Wants Instant Gratification: Managers and employers often complain that Gen Y “wants instant gratification” and it seems like Gen Y itself recognizes this, too. 89% of Gen X and Boomers agreed that Gen Y “wants instant gratification,” while 73% of Gen Y agreed with the statement as well.

Casual and Professional Can Co-Exist: Though almost three-quarters of all survey respondents agreed that Gen Y dresses and behaves casually, the generations agree that professionalism may not necessarily be a “casualty of casual.” Out of all 22 perceptions regarding Gen Y that we provided on our survey, Gen X and Boomer respondents disagreed with the statement that Gen Y “lacks professionalism” the most. Of course, this may not mean that Gen Y is viewed as professional, but the majority disagree with the view that they’re unprofessional.

Even Many Gen Y Think They Feel Entitled: Two-thirds of Gen X and Boomer respondents agreed that Gen Y feels entitled. Surprisingly, however, almost half of Gen Y respondents also agreed that their generation “feels entitled to job benefits they’ve not yet earned.”

Willing to Pay Their Dues?: Our study found that almost twice as many Gen X and Boomers agreed with the statement that “Gen Y lacks willingness to pay their dues” compared to how Gen Y participants rated their own generation. In fact, Gen Y was 17 times as likely to strongly disagree with the statement that the generation lacks willingness to pay their dues.

Masters of Multitasking or Misperception?: We often hear anecdotally that Gen Y is great at multitasking, working in team environments and self-directed learning. Though Gen Y agree that these are some of their strengths, their Gen X and Boomer managers and supervisors don’t agree that they excel at these working styles.

Relationship with technology

Generation Y has a nearly intimate connection to technology. In their 2007 book, Connecting to the Net.Generation: What Higher Education Professionals Need to Know About Today’s Students, Reynol Junco and Jeanna Mastrodicasa found that in a survey of 7,705 college students in the US:

  • 97% own a computer
  • 97% have downloaded music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
  • 94% own a cell phone
  • 76% use instant messaging and social networking sites
  • 75% of college students have a Facebook profile and most of them check it daily.
  • 60% own some type of portable music and/or video device such as an iPod
  • 49% regularly download music and other media using peer-to-peer file sharing
  • 34% use websites as their primary source of news
  • 28% author a blog and 44% read blogs
  • 15% of IM users are logged on 24 hours a day/7 days a week 
  • 8% have confessed to having an online gaming addiction at some point in their life
Grafik logo as a placeholder for author's image
Richard Hamilton

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