Busting Generation Y Myths

My nieces are staying with my parents while they look for jobs. This has been interesting to watch. As Generation Y gals, things turn on a dime. They have little patience. They expect employers to hire quickly. If they haven't gotten a call back in 48 hours, they move on. Waiting isn't an option. In fact, I'm not sure it's even in their vocabulary.

I've heard some negative things about the Generation Y workforce lately, like they're entitled, arrogant or disloyal. And I've heard managers say, "They expect to move up the ranks without paying their dues."

After watching my nieces, they are no more entitled, arrogant or disloyal than I am, but they do have a different perspective. And managers today need to understand that difference perspective because Gen Y, will soon to be the biggest segment of the workforce.

So, to help understand Gen Y a bit better, let's bust some negative Gen Y myths hanging around.

Myth 1. Generation Y is arrogant.

"Don't mistake enthusiasm for arrogance. This generation is looking to make a difference," says Bruce Tulgan, in his humorous and successful book and DVD Not Everyone Gets a Trophy. "The big myth about Gen Y is that they want the top job on day one. They don't want the top job, they just want to make an impact on day one. They want to hit the ground running. All you need to do is make sure there is a track laid out and ready ahead of them."

Myth 2.  They all want to be idea people. They don't want to do the grunt work.

"They are so desperate to prove themselves to you and themselves, they will do the grunt work," says Tulgan.  But he adds they need to know that grunt work has value. That someone is keeping score.

Myth 3. Gen Y is lazy.

This group has used technology all their lives to multitask and find shortcuts when performing tasks. When it comes to moving through the Internet, be it texting, surging or networking, they are the pros.millennials2_.jpg

Managers should embrace that these folks are going to find different ways to achieve tasks. That's not being lazy as much as it's them trying to be efficient. And aren't you looking for a group of folks who think outside the box?

Myth 4. Gen Y is Disloyal

Gen Yers are loyal, they just don't necessarily define loyalty like you do. They aren't willing like past generations to only put in their time. If they are to be hard working and loyal employees they expect to learn new skills, be part of something worthwhile and be appreciated.

Princeton One reports, "Managers should give Gen Yers interesting work, lots of feedback, chances to advance and rewards for good performance. In doing so, they can become a company's best and most loyal employees."

Myth 5. They're spoiled.

Again, don't mistake spoiled for self esteem. This generation according to the Families and Work Institute, may have pampered reputations, because they tend to put more emphasis on the non-work areas of their lives. But Gen Yers work as many if not more hours than Baby Boomers did at their age.

If my nieces are a reflection of the Gen Y generation, they want to hit the ground running. They may be higher maintenance for managers, but they are also high value. Take advantage of what they have to offer. They are here to stay. 

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.