By Ryan Healy – People often ask why I decided to get into this whole career blogging world that I have come to love. Usually my answer is something about giving my generation a voice in the corporate discussion, or standing up for all of my peers and friends who openly discuss their bitterness towards work. These are true statements and they are some of the reasons I decided to make my voice heard. However, this is not actually why I started blogging.
One evening last fall my dad called. We often discuss random topics and potential business ideas. But this call was different because he was unusually excited. He went on a tangent about baby boomers retiring and Gen X being too small to fill their shoes. He told me about the shortage of experienced workers in the non-profit community, and the need for baby boomers like him to begin passing the torch to the younger generations.
I said, “I’m sure this is all true, but what can we do about it?”
My father said, “You and Dan (my brother and a budding entrepreneur) should write a book with Mom (a talent development expert in the banking industry) about the passing of leadership from today’s managers to generation Y.”
It was an interesting idea, and given my initial experience in the working world, I could see how bridging the gap in leadership is necessary. The book never happened. Who knows, maybe it could have worked. But what has transpired from that original idea has been pretty cool.
I studied the topic like crazy. I turned every happy hour conversation with a random peer into a learning experience, and I started writing. I probably spent five to six hours a day reading, writing and studying the topic on top of my 9-to-5 job. Then I started a blog to get some more insight and to make my voice heard. All of a sudden a famous columnist and author asked me to write a weekly column for her. I jumped at the chance.
For months now I have been writing about what I look for in a job, how I like to work, changes I would like to see. Many things I write seem to resonate with young and old alike, and of course, many people disagree with my posts, from all generations. I do not represent the views of an entire generation; it would be ridiculous to pretend I do. But that is why a blog is the perfect forum for this discussion; we can all have our say.
Sometimes the comments turn into a generational argument, and I will admit to getting a little heated and protective of my generation. Then I read comments like this one from Pirate Jo:
“The fact that today’s 20-somethings have all these options and don’t have to waste their youth on multiple, crappy jobs is a GOOD thing. I’d never want to stick them in the same situation I was in. In fact, I’m thankful for them. They’re saying the same things Gen X has been saying for ten years, but none of those damn old-school bureaucrats would listen to us because there were too few of us to matter. Now that Gen Y is joining our ranks, it’s going to make things better for ALL of us.”
After reading a comment like that, I remember that my goal was to create a dialogue, and in fact the whole idea came from a baby boomer father. I remember that I created Employee Evolution as an open forum for people to communicate with each other regardless of whether or not I agree with them.
The point of all of this is not to start an argument or to say that generation Y is better than others. We have been lucky enough to enter the job market at a time where we do indeed have the upper hand and we have the technology and means to speak freely about the topic. Some of the ideas I discuss can help us all, some will not work for everyone. If we all drop our protective guards and listen, including me, we can continue this great discussion. We can create some changes for the better; we can influence baby boomer managers to share their knowledge with generation Y and we can engage my generation enough to slow down and learn from the managers who want to help. Or we can just keep arguing.
Ryan Healy's blog is Employee Evolution.