greatest generation since your mom

Several weeks ago, 60 Minutes’ Morley Safer ran with a story called “The ‘Millennials’ Are Coming,” discussing how businesses and HR has struggled to deal with our generation’s so-called me-first, everyone’s-a-winner complexes and its impact on the workplace.

Some favorite excerpts:

They were raised by doting parents who told them they are special, played in little leagues with no winners or losers, or all winners. They are laden with trophies just for participating and they think your business-as-usual ethic is for the birds. And if you persist in the belief you can, take your job and shove it.

* * *

“These young people will tell you what time their yoga class is and the day’s work will be organized around the fact that they have this commitment. So you actually envy them. How wonderful it is to be young and have your priorities so clear. Flipside of it is how awful it is to be managing the extension, sort of, of the teenage babysitting pool,” Salzman tells Safer.

* * *

“I believe that they actually think of themselves like merchandise on eBay. ‘If you don’t want me, Mr. Employer, I’ll go sell myself down the street. I’ll probably get more money. I’ll definitely get a better experience. And by the way, they’ll adore me. You only like me,'” Salzman says.

So who’s to blame for the narcissistic praise hounds now taking over the office?

This thinly-veiled “in-my-day-we-walked-to-school” story is almost plain offensive.  Is Safer really denigrating us on the way our parents raised us?   I’m surprised he didn’t throw in a mention of ‘Starbucks’ in there, so you can have the bitter diptych of “yoga” and “Starbucks lattes”.

Hang in there, my fellow members of our lost, selfish generation.  We should all look up to Safer’s generation, and bring back racial segregation, anti-Semitism, and sexism.  Those were the good ol’ days.

6 Comments

  • kgmc Says:

    Earlier this fall, sm27 and I were discussing a presentation about generations in the workplace that had been given at our alma mater. The presentation had a similar message to the 60 Minutes story, and I wrote back with, among other comments, the following: I’ll also be curious to see how these sorts of analyses change as the Millenials & Gen Xers become more vocal on their own behalf – will they have a less critical interpretation, for example, of job hopping, than that it’s a selfish thing? (Like, Google advocates switching jobs, internally or externally, every 18 months – while they do think it keeps the workers energized, they cite (I think) as their primary reason that doing so means that their staff have a broader view of things and a wider functional network of people to learn from and call on.)

  • Zach Says:

    While these articles make me insane, I’ll do anything to not be called “Generation Y”. I’d rather “Internet Generation” than “Millenials”, though. The half-lives on these should be getting shorter, courtesy of computers — my brother, who’s 3 years younger, lives in an entirely different world than I do.

    Also, the senior management at the companies where current twentysomethings work are usually holdovers from a generation where you worked for the same company for the rest of your life… or where that was even an option. Whiners.

  • Selfish Crab Says:

    Yeah, I’ve seen “YouTube generation” tossed around before. I could easily fill an entire blog with excerpts from social-milestone type journalism where writer slips into some shorthand speak for Now.

    Here’s an example:

    Peter Arnell, the founder of the Arnell Group, a brand and product invention company, said the trend toward using real-people models has grown notably in the last five years thanks to reality television, YouTube and MySpace. “It’s an ‘American Idol’ world,” Mr. Arnell said.

  • yathrib Says:

    And job-hopping has nothing to do with bad jobs (24-hour on-call; no overtime, you’re exempt) and crappy compensation (urban living costs inflating wildly, no pensions, etc).

    Companies encourage the me-first attitude. Two examples:

    – New trainees at a large company receive a copy of “The Brand You”, a manual for getting your ass ready for the next job (http://amazon.com/dp/0375407723), or rather a “manifesto for today’s knowledge workers”. Check out the excerpt and see how long it takes you to have a seizure.

    – Lots of places talk about their policy of moving to a new team every 18 months. Most don’t carry through.

  • Selfish Crab Says:

    I just realized, you all are dirty job-hopping millennials. The lot of you!

  • yathrib Says:

    You’re worse — you’re one of those guys who thinks he can just up and change careers!

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