Throw away Gen Y, Gen X and Baby Boomer as labels. We were born in different eras of history, but it does not mean as people we are that different. We have similar behavioural responses and we have similar ways of dealing with situations. Saying employee A is moany because they want flexibility and that they want to rise quickly to a management role, purely because they are Gen Y is ridiculous. Gen X also wanted these things. Everyone wants flexibility at work, whether it is shorter days or ability to attend appointments, nothing uniquely Gen Y there. Ambition to rise quickly into management was never exclusively a Gen Y thing either. I also know many people who are “Gen X” who wanted a fast rise to management within their career.

People who continue to use the Gen Y tag to label a set of behavioural responses, common across generations, are in fact creating bias and stereotypes. These responses happened again when Gen X entered the workforce. Just because it’s now apparently evident again, doesn’t mean it is new. It doesn’t mean it’s new that some Gen Y’s don’t know how to be patient and expect great things early in their careers. It’s just that Gen Y’s happen be vocal about it right now.

Recently, many research studies have identified Gen Y’s as being hard to manage because they are impatient and that they don’t want to work hard to progress. Actually, reading these surveys makes it clear that those reports are largely just the perceptions of those surveyed, not of the surveyed expectations of Gen Y recruits, who are not often surveyed in the same way. These surveys repeat the belief that young people are lazy, impatient and have very high expectations. Something that has occurred in every generation. To categorise reported views as Gen Y personality traits is to be lazy and fail to take an objective view of recent history and patterns

Stop trying to label the age group to provide an excuse to marginalise them and reduce their rights. This has happened in the past and it will continue to happen in future. Managers need to let go of the Gen Y excuse and learn to adapt to their employees and not just say “oh it’s a Gen Y thing”. It’s not; it’s a person/people thing.

Being a good and effective manager means that you are able to adapt to the different ways your employees need to be managed, no matter what age or stage within their career. People are impatient, people want to succeed and move forward. It’s not a Gen Y thing. Using a lazy label like Gen Y is not doing your job.

Get over it and drop the label.

HR Workaholic & a Gen Y!