New York Etiquette Guide

Business Etiquette Expert Grades Gen Y: Shortcomings and Strengths

Posted on Fri, Oct 15, 2010

Gen Y woman

by Lydmila Bloch, Business Etiquette Author and Coach

Over the past few weeks, I’ve received a number of media inquiries asking my opinion about Generation Y and their business habits. Although I don’t have a perfect answer to this question, I am nevertheless inclined to defend them, despite their particular shortcomings.

They have been described in the media as self-centered  “Millennials,” with a very short attention span and very few real social skills for success in business. They talk, walk, text, eat and tweet all at once. We have given them multiple names and labeled them, but nothing may describe them better than “Net Generation” and “IPod” people. They have also been tagged as a microwave-mentality group that cannot imagine life without tapping on an endless variety of tech gadgets. They live and breathe their social media networks, and have high expectations of financial rewards at work. They believe that work should be fun, and they don’t want to be chained to a desk. Invariably, they connect mainly with “like-minded” people while more or less dismissing the rest of the universe.

All their lives, Gen Ys have challenged the status quo because they were taught by their parents to raise questions and thumb their noises at conventions. And yet, because Mom and Dad were seldom more than a phone call away, they never developed the true independence and confidence essential for success in business. The parents of Ys’ not only fulfilled their roles of landlord and butler but also acted as “PR and marketing specialists” on behalf of their children. Editing their kids’ resumes, setting them up with their own professional contacts, sliding them into summer jobs, and making appointments with a business etiquette expert before an important meeting were just a few of their life-facilitating roles. Some parents went as far as accompanying their children to a job interview or sending a follow-up e-mail afterwards. On the other hand, Gen Y is usually generous, teaching us how to write a compelling blog or how to winsomely tweet and get a high number of followers on Twitter.

Experts have been warning employers about these challenges because millions of baby boomers are retiring, and Gen Y is the foundation for the next three decades. The trouble is that Gen Y is lacking in certain social etiquette skills for success in business. And what are their biggest challenges?

  • Lack of social skills and inability to connect with other age-groups at work
  • Dismissing traditional ways of communication in the workplace
  • Needing a steady supply of positive feedback and reward from their employers
  • Having multiple piercing, or their legs and arms tattooed without ever thinking of the high cost of removal
  • Being self-centered to the point that there is no room to think about anybody but themselves
  • Being obsessed with updating their personal profiles on Twitter and Facebook, even during a business meeting at work
  • Lack of a “human element” in much of what the do, and inability to connect through emotion as opposed to via a tech device.

But for all the glitter and Twitter associated with this young generation, they still represent our hope, our vision, our competitive spirit in the global market, and our collective ability to connect to the world through a balanced bland of traditional experience, business etiquette and technological advances. At the end of  the day, Business Etiquette Expert gives Gen Y a B + grade!

I look forward to hearing your comments! Please RT if you liked the story.

Tags: Gen Y, business etiquette expert, business etiquette skills, Twitter, Facebook, social skills for success in business