Technology is one thing. The people pushing its buttons are another. For organizations looking to get the most out of both, it’s important to consider the mix.
Enlisting professional help in deploying the most appropriate IT solutions is an excellent plan.
This end of modern life, after all, moves at breakneck speeds, and the notion that a firm engaged in running a business could spare the resources to stay properly abreast of it is folly.More than that, though, managers need to pay attention to the flesh-and-blood operators of the technology, and the characteristics that define them.
Which brings us to Generation Y.
Gen Y, or that segment of the population born between about 1980 and 1995 (depending on where you draw the parameters), is a distinct lot. Much has been written on this unique cohort, especially as it relates to technology. And, for this slice of humanity, it all relates to technology.
Almost from their first explosive arrival in our midst, this group has been connected, on line, in touch. Now fully formed, Generation Yers are fast-talking, digitally fluent, socially engaged, texting, tweeting, technologically proficient multi-taskers with a decided penchant for instant gratification and constant connection with the world.
It’s news that’s either terrifying or exciting to the managers for whom they work—depending on their perspective and how firmly dug in are their heels in more traditional way of doing business.
Call them lazy, entitled, fickle or high maintenance. Rail against their inability to stay tuned on one task or to drill down deep enough to fully appreciate a subject.
Lament their discomfort with face-to-face communication and traditional layers of authority.
Or, wrap your brain around the distinct possibility that this generation is also potentially the most high-performing one in decades.
In a Canadian Business article on the phenomenon of these folks hitting the workplace last summer, Toronto demographer, David Foot, pointed out the benefits of this population’s proficiency with lateral thinking. The ability to jump from one task to another without taking a breath is a boon to productivity, he said, particularly in the flattening corporate structures they’re joining.
That Gen Ys’ existences unfold so naturally in the company of electronically connected others provides a useful model of collaboration that influences their choices and behaviour in the office. The way this generation communicates—which is to say constantly, concisely, quickly and multiply—and the freedom with which it shares its opinions, and gathers others, has to be blessing for any company interested in staying current.
Ultimately, say those with a finger on this generational pulse, there’s no joy in fighting the divide. The Gen Ys are here to stay, and it behooves any organization with them on the payroll—which is to say pretty much every one—to embrace their challenges and exploit their potential completely.
Have your IT departments accommodate the technology they use in their personal lives, rather than resent its intrusion. Banish the apprehensions of the unknown, and harness the energy, hunger and innovation of this lot to your benefit. And make the eminent comfort Generation Y has with technology a cornerstone of your future.