Monday, March 7, 2011

The A Word

"we don't use that word"...the young man across the table from me retorted as if I had insulted his family. This, a response from the Generation Y upstart who had asked me for 'career advice'. His encouragement halted when I told him that he needed to develop a 'system of personal accountability'.

Generational Motivation has been a hot work place topic of late. At times unfair in it's generalized presentation and beaten to oblivion on the conference circuit.

Today we will simplify Generational Diversity down to one word:

Otherwise, know as The A Word....

There are two sides of Accountability:
1. The offense at the binding nature of The A Word
2. The offense at the offense of the distaste of The A Word

We don't like that word...
As our conversation evolved, the young man explained to me that his distaste for the A Word was a result of uninvited entitlement. Since he came into the workforce he had been barraged by company veterans cornering him with advice about 'how things are done around here'. He didn't ask for the advice, he found the nature of the advice to be binding, and he thought those giving the advice were trying to regulate him rather than encourage him.

Can you blame him for having a distaste for the word every elder statesman presented as a right of passage?

Uphill both ways in the snow...
As time endures, facts become more distant and legends grow. Every 'more experienced' team member will tell you one of the following things:
* I was number 1 in the company in (pick a date)
* Back in my day, we didn't choose our benefits, we were thankful to have a job
* You cannot win without having a system of accountability

Everyone gets to a point in their career (and life for that matter) when they want to give back. They see young people and are inspired by their energy and optimism. Often, the advice they choose to give is in an effort to help young people avoid making the mistakes that they did.

Can you blame a 30 year company veteran for wanting to share her knowledge in an effort to extend a legacy?

Are we really so different?
If I hear another speaker tell me that Gen Y is tech savvy and entitled I am going to puke!

Business is evolving through technology. Having a more efficient operating system means we commute less and spend less time at the water cooler. We get things done faster and we have more time to do things we actually enjoy. Because of this we enjoy work more!

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game!

We are all distinctly great at certain things. Our age is not of consequence. What is of consequence is the Corporate Culture that we grew up in. There was a time when micro-managing was more prevalent, employees were held to strict hours and professional attire was not optional. That time has gone and we are no less productive.

The 'kid' who sat across from me listened to my advice. He felt better about asking for it than having it force fed to him. He also knows that his expectations for himself are far greater than those of his company.

In Conclusion:
a. Don't go assuming tenure gives you license to spread your industry knowledge.
b. Humbly accept guidance when it is given.
c. You can be accountable without being threatened (if only to yourself).

Don't Forget to Remember!


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