Artificial Maturity

Helping kids meet the challenge of becoming authentic adults

A Crash Course in Understanding Generation Y

The world they live in has produced a generational mindset—a shared paradigm.

I know, I know. One minute you think you’ve figure out this new generation of kids and the next, you feel you’re on a learning curve again. I get to spend a lot of time with university students these days and I’m amazed at one thing. The world they live in has produced a generational mindset—a shared paradigm—if you will.

Need a crash course in understanding this generation? Just look at the world the adults have created for them and you begin to get it. Let me summarize it in a few short phrases. I bounced this little set of phrases off of students and they said: That’s me! If you are from Generation Y…see what you think of this summary.

1. Hear me out.

These young adults have had a say in how things go since they were five. They expect to express themselves, to upload, vote, blog or update and they believe they’ll be heard.

2. Keep it real.

The only thing worse than being uncool is being unreal. They demand authenticity. Anything that smells “plastic” is a turn-off. They value genuine people and leaders.

3. Let’s have fun.

They believe work and fun can be combined; they don’t want to separate the two. In fact, they may stop working midday to have fun and work again at midnight. It’s a continuum.

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4. My way now.

They’ve not heard the word “no” very often growing up. As a student or new employee, they expect to get their way and don’t see why adults can’t understand their perspective.

5. Make it count.

They want to do things that matter. Meaning is as important as money at work. They don’t think small. They like projects that are very important and almost impossible.

6. Let me know.

They’re used to constant feedback. They got trophies on teams just for showing up. They got lots of kudos from parents for years and today want it instantly from their leaders.

7. Plug me in.

You already know this. They’re a connected generation. They can’t imagine a day without constant connection with friends. Technology is an appendage of their bodies.

8. Just do it.

Words that describe their world are immediacy and convenience. They’re not prone to waste a lot of time with committee red tape or protocol. Stuff should happen fast.

Your thoughts?

Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, an international non-profit organization created to develop emerging leaders.

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