This is the first of a series of blogs done on how the generations differ in the worklace based on a survey conducted by the author. Read more about the survey.
By Verity Bissett-Powell
My friend, a fellow Y-Gen was recently critiqued for being “aggressively ambitious” by a senior leader within his organisation. He retold the events leading up to this bold statement and genuinely could not understand what he had said that was wrong. He had simply asked the leader what he needed to do to take the next step up the career ladder, and received what was clearly meant as a rebuttal.
This is a common story and one that is affecting leaders of X and Y generations. The research clearly backs up such anecdotes, as when asked the question “I know/knew the direction I want/ed my career to go” there was a distinctive variety among the results. The leader in question was from the baby boomer generation, 42% of whom agreed with this survey statement. One individual commented: “I didn't set specific goals about what level I want to reach by what age unlike many young people today.” Meanwhile, 59% of the millennials or Y generation said that yes, they know where they want their career to go. “I've always had a clear image in my mind of what I wanted to be in the next 5-10 years” as one respondent summarises.
So you can see why the career progression enquiry would evoke such a response and cause frustration on the part of both conversationalists. Does this mean that all X and Y generation employees will be constantly banging on their manager’s doors asking for promotions? No. What it means is that the younger generations want to feel like they are progressing in their careers: through formal or informal development, feedback on their performance, and some sort of mapping for the next steps.
It means that analysing the talent pipeline could become a more transparent process than previously, as the players involved are given permission to confidently and comfortably voice their motivations and goals.
Follow the entire series throughout May and June, and read more about the research that was conducted.
Verity Bissett-Powell is a Business Development Executive with DDI UK.