Posts Tagged ‘gen y’

Understanding the Gen Y Quarter-life Crisis and what all of it means for you

Posted on: May 30th, 2014 by Raymond de Villiers No Comments

quarter-life-crisis-test-resultQuarter life is a stage that runs through a person’s twenties, and possibly into the very early thirties.

Some academic writers have aligned it with Erik Erikson’s Intimacy vs Isolation stage in human development theory.

Intimacy vs. isolation – This is the first stage of adult development. This development usually happens during young adulthood. By successfully forming loving relationships with other people, individuals are able to experience love and intimacy. Those who fail to form lasting relationships may feel isolated and alone.

Gen Y’s experience of the quarter-life crisis is broader than Erikson’s lifestage description, though the search for authentic intimacy is certainly a significant part of the experience.

Putting the Quarter-life crisis in a generational context

The concept of having crisis associated with a lifestage is nothing new, but it does shift the marker earlier in life and the focus of the crisis seems to be different.

Silent generation crisis stage

The Silent generation was born into a time of crisis. Just being alive and living through their formative years was an experience in crisis survival. But, as children they experienced these crises as part of their worldview and values formation processes. Consequently, the Silents didn’t need to / have to experience a developmental crisis in later life.

In essence the relative stability and change resistance of the Silent generation life experiences is rooted in the crisis that was childhood. The Silent generation didn’t go through a life crisis in adulthood because they had gone through one in childhood, and everything they had learned mitigated against life being taken over by crisis later on.

Baby Boomers crisis

The Boomers grew up in a world that was stable and increasingly affluent. Their childhood experiences were essentially idyllic – encapsulated in their nostalgic recollection of the “Good old days”. Boomers entered adulthood having experienced little disruption and moved into a world of work that allowed them to aim for, live, and achieve their dreams. Sprawling suburbs filled with nice houses, manicured gardens, shining cars, and Boomers off at the office enjoying working hard to make it all happen.

Then they hit their 40’s and mid-life. They had achieved what they wanted to career wise, or realized that they were doomed to never achieve their goals. They looked at their kids and didn’t know them because they worked too hard to spend time connecting with their progeny. Critically they also looked at their partner and questioned whether this was the person they wanted to spend the rest of their life with.

Trigger the mid-life crisis.

The reaction was escalating divorce rates, second and third marriages and families, and burn out in the workplace. A generation of people suddenly realized that they didn’t know how to live if they weren’t chasing a goal or target. Some Boomers decided to kick up a gear in the workplace and built amazing careers and corporations. Others decided that family was their new goal and redirected all of their drive into making sure that their second or third family didn’t fall apart the way their first ones did. As they had Gen Y children with their new partners they switched into Super-Parent mode and actively engaged with their young kids and their development.

Generation X crisis

The Gen X crisis kicked in as they transitioned in true adulthood and were confronted with being expected to act and be “grown up”. This happened as they transitioned into their 30’s.

As Gen X made this switch they considered the chaos they experienced as a result of the decisions Baby Boomers made in their mid-life crisis. They also looked at the world they were in and the steady erosion of stability that older generations took for granted. At the same time they looked at the “boring” world of the Silent generation. Gen X looked at the two extremes in the adult lives of the generations who preceded them, the boring stasis of the Silents, and the self-centred workaholic loneliness their Boomers parents put them through. Now adulthood confronted them and they didn’t want to be like either of these.

Couple this questioning and possible disillusionment, with the self-sufficiency generated by how they grew up, and add in the increasing awareness of alternative choices generated by growing globalization. The effect is that Gen X entered their thirties and experienced a crisis as they realized they weren’t sure if they wanted to stay in the job they moved into once they had finished studying whatever their parents had been prepared to pay for. They also looked at their families and decided they wanted something different for them. But, they couldn’t just quit life…..

Trigger the adulthood crisis of Gen X.

Gen X responded by finding ways to create space to consider their future. Many chose to step out of work for a period and do post-graduate studies in a field of their choosing if they knew what they wanted to do with the rest of their life. Many, though, knew what they didn’t want to be but weren’t sure of what they wanted to be so they stepped into a more general sphere. This second trend gave rise to the escalation in people signing up for MBA’s in the 90’s with the average age of MBA students dropping down to the upper 20’s by the early 2000’s.

Gen Y Quarter-life crisis

Gen Y have moved into young adulthood and as they have done so they have been confronted by an earlier and more existentially focused quarter-life crisis. Men and women in their mid-20’s are asking the type of questions and experiencing levels of angst that older generations were completely oblivious to in the corresponding stage of life.

Gen Y are questioning life on all levels:

  • Spiritual
  • Emotional
  • Professional
  • Personal

At all of these levels they are asking: “Is this who I want to be?”

There is, however, a difference in the orientation of these questions that is significantly dissimilar to the corresponding ones asked by Boomers and Gen X. Older generations experienced their questioning and crisis from the perspective of disillusionment or lack of self-awareness, Gen Y are asking these questions from a place of heightened self-awareness and optimism for what the future could be like. From this space they want to be positioned to take best advantage, or make the best contribution to, the world that they optimistically see far more positively than their seniors do.

The correlation between lifestage and existential crisis can be more clearly seen when we line the generational lifestages with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Life Crises and the evolution of human need

maslowThe Silent generation had their crisis experience low down on Maslow’s hierarchy. Essentially the experiences of needing to survive the impact of World War 2 and the Great Depression meant that the crisis experience in their childhood occurred between the Physiological and Safety levels. It was an intense existential crisis focused on survival and managing with little. Jobs were lost, homes were not secure, incomes were tenuous, and in the war zones themselves living itself was uncertain. Living through experiences at this level it is little wonder that any trials and tribulations faced in later life were taken in stride and created little crisis in this stoic generation.

The mid-life crisis experienced by Baby Boomers was in the Love / Belonging level. The world Boomers experienced was stable and safe with all of their most basic needs met. The high divorce rates that accompanied the mid-life crisis events of the Boomer generation indicate the love / belonging nature of the crisis.

As Boomers have moved into new families the renewed focus on their Gen Y children having a clear sense of family and stability also reflects the love / belonging nature of their crisis and their desire to meet those needs.

As products of the sexual revolution [love / belonging activity in earlier life] it is also possible that experiences from this period have found expression and resolution in their attempts to resolve their mid-life crisis. The presence of the sexual revolution within their young adulthood indicates that Baby Boomers have been grappling with this level of need for most of their existence.

Mid-life ended up being the period during which they were forced to meet the need in a way they were not fully equipped for.

As a result of the “broken family” and “workaholic” dynamics Gen X experienced with their Boomer parents they have grappled with needs at the Esteem layer within Maslow’s hierarchy.

As Gen X entered adulthood and experienced their crisis they asked questions related to who they wanted to be in their life. These questions were asked more holistically than the Boomers mid-life challenges as X’ers looked at life in total and avoided segmenting into work and life.

The self-reliance Gen X developed growing up generated crisis because they realized that nobody else was going to live their life for them. They wanted to, and needed to take control of their lives and be comfortable with where they were going. The increased importance of their children in their lives meant that they wanted to make sure that their kids would benefit form the adulthood crisis resolution. Unfortunately, they probably didn’t effectively communicate this priority to their children because they are so self-driven in the way they address issues.

Realising that they didn’t want to be the same as their predecessors, and that life is too short to live regretfully Generation X moved into their 30’s attempting to make decisions that give esteem, respect, and achievement to their self-sufficient way of living.

Gen Y’s Quarter-life crisis

Generation Y’s quarter-life crisis has come on earlier. Gen X studied what was expected of them, then moved into an initial career consistent with these expectations, then only began to question when the expectations of adulthood pressed in. Gen Y is experiencing this crisis of identity as they move out of the “education” phase of life into young adulthood and entry into the world of work.

Gen Y have a highly developed sense of esteem and confidence based largely on the way in which they have been parented by both Boomers and X’ers – though each parent group motivated by different drivers. Gen Y have also grown up in a world that is largely affluent with Gen Y having a sense of very little actually being needed to live. This world of security and relative stability does have a shadow side that Gen Y is experiencing. Boredom is ever present.

Generation Y are transitioning into the world of work and young adulthood with a sense that the world is their oyster and they can do whatever they set their minds to. Overly supportive and protective adults have drummed this message into them. At the same time, Gen Y have a very tempered sense of failure brought on by being told that they were winners just because they tried something, or that they didn’t fail at something as long as they had fun doing it.

Consequently, as they start to look forward and consider their future they are in crisis because they don’t know what they actually want out of life, and they have never been pressed to develop any sense of this. Pair this with the Gen Y paradox of being one of the most street smart yet naive generations ever and they end up have a very real understanding of ALL of the options available to them, and yet are consumed with questions about what it all means.

Generation Y’s quarter-life crisis is driven by their striving to meet the needs inherent in achieving self-actualisation.

Understanding that the Gen Y crisis is a continuation of the crisis events experienced by older generations and also driven by a logical progression from humanity’s survival toward self-actualisation, how is the quarter-life crisis survived?

Surviving the Quarter-life Crisis

Generation Y need first to accept that it is a real life experience and embrace it for what it is. They also need to realize that older generations will look at the quarter-life crisis through the lens of their own crisis experience and probably not understand that it is as significant as it is. Boomers and X’ers may even deride or reject the crisis totally.

The mid-life and adulthood crises forced Boomers and X’ers to make decisions leading to significant change – whether they were ready to do so or not. The quarter-life crisis is similarly forcing Gen Y to make decisions that will change their life. Gen Y need to accept the responsibility for these decisions as they make them. If the consequences are not fun, or what the Y’s hoped for, they will be tempted to fall back into the nest. Generation Y is being called the Boomerang generation because of this tendency to move back to their childhood homes when the going gets tough. Gen Y need to learn to accept the consequences of their decisions and move on with life. Of all the generations alive at the moment Gen Y is the most likely to be confronted with further choices that will redirect their life again, and again. If they don’t learn to live with, and follow through, on their decisions they run the risk of future lifestage paralysis.

Some advice for older generations living with Generation Y through the quarter-life crisis:

At Work

  • Acknowledge that this crisis and associated experiences is very real
  • Realise that Gen Y are going through transition in the quarter-life crisis and it is very possible that they will move on. Your chances of keeping them for an extended period are remote.
  • Because you won’t keep Gen Y hedge your bets and have alternatives constantly in the wings. Other Gen Y’s can move into your business due to crisis just as easily as those with you may move out.
  • Talent runs in herds – talented people have talented friends. Tap into the social network of your Gen Y’s to bring in fresh talent most similar to the talent who may transition out.
  • Broaden your recruitment horizons. Look at fine arts, engineering, business science, the humanities, and other areas you wouldn’t traditionally have recruited from. Gen Y’s going through the quarter-life crisis may be perfect for your business, but be sitting in a field that doesn’t traditionally land on your radar.

At Home

  • Acknowledge that your children are going through real crisis and it is giving them valuable life experience for a future unlike anything you have ever been through.
  • Realise that you probably won’t understand what they are going through.
  • Give them the space they need to work through the crisis in a way that works for them….but may not make sense to you.
  • Don’t carry the consequences of their choices for them. Allow them to fully experience all that this crisis is developing and instilling in their skill set. This will probably be tough because it will be counter to the way you have parented them through the trials of adolescence.
  • Come to terms with the fact that the quarter-life crisis is not a bad thing that they are going through, just a different thing

Do speak to us if you would like more insights into Gen Y or working with the different Generations in the workplace.

Is it evil to avoid tax?

Posted on: June 7th, 2013 by admin-kablooey 1 Comment

Devil business manGoogle famously has the slogan “don’t be evil”. They are however embroiled in a worldwide issue – is tax avoidance evil? Not only have Google been dragged into the fray,  but Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Starbucks and even famous individuals such as Jimmy Carr have come under the spotlight for not paying their fair share of tax

Tax evasion is illegal, but avoidance is not. It is recognised that the more money you have, the more likely you are to be able to afford expensive accountants and lawyers to reduce tax. Apple, according to a study conducted by Millward Brown Optimar, for WPP is the most valuable brand on the planet, with Google second.

So how have Google only paid £10 million in corporation tax on revenues of nearly £12 billion, when they openly claim to make 25% profit? They carry out something called “Double Irish”. Their business is registered in Ireland where corporation tax is a lot lower and is allowed to move their profit offshore. In Google’s case this is the British Overseas Territory of The Cayman Islands, which has no income, capital gains or corporation tax. They end up with an effective tax rate of 2.4%. This obviously makes great business sense and if the British Government wants to change this arrangement they can obviously change the status of the Cayman Islands.

Google does indirectly pay tax though. All their employees in the country that they are working from pay income tax on their earnings, state taxes, national insurance and VAT. Google are also making a huge investment in the UK by building a massive HQ at Kings Cross in London, reputedly costing £300 million that will give much needed work for the construction sector. Once built it will directly provide jobs and indirectly give a boost to services such as bars, restaurants, shops, gyms, transport etc., in the local area.

Tax evasion is not illegal, so why all the fuss? At TomorrowToday we believe they are missing the point and are not taking notice of a major disruptive force; the opinions and power of the people within Generation X and Y. Even though Google was very famously founded by Gen Xer’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin they looked to a classic Baby Boomer in the form of Eric Schmidt to be the CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011 He was recruited to run the company under the guidance of Venture Capitalists that are in turn Baby Boomers. He went about his task to make the business more productive, more efficient and more profitable, because that’s what is expected; companies are there to make money and deliver returns to shareholders. As the CEO, it is his duty to reduce costs and if tax can be reduced, so be it. His systems are still in place even though Larry Page took over the reigns in April 2011. Ironically Eric Schmidt is part of Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s Business Advisory Group. At Apple the CEO is Tim Cook, Microsoft is Steve Bulmer, Starbucks Howard Schultz, the list goes on of household names that are CEO’s of businesses that are not paying their taxes. All of these Baby Boomers might be great business people to increase productivity and decrease costs, but are they in touch with the values of the younger generations? The days are over of having only your shareholders to answer to. Today’s younger generations are more attuned to the creation of a fairer world that looks after the whole, not just the individual. If you want them to buy from you, you need to show how you care for the world and its people. People will vote with their feet (Starbucks) or more likely their fingers in today’s connected world if businesses are not trusted and do not contribute to society. Generation X and Y are not brand loyal; they will find another service or product that suits their needs and values.

Superstar businesses of today, be wary. Back in 2000 Apple wasn’t even in the top 20 companies and you had probably never even heard of Google. Already both Apple and Google have fallen out of the top 20 Most Trusted Businesses in the USA according to the Ponema Institute. Huge companies and famous brands such as Cisco, Yahoo, Myspace, AOL, Dell and Nokia have fallen from lofty heights. You are never too big or famous to fail (unless you are a bank of course, but that’s another story). Plug into the values of today’s people and ignore them at your peril. It would be a shame that worthwhile projects that are being progressed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, to try and solve the worlds energy and climate problems were cut short because they were not in touch with the very people they are trying to help be rid of evils such as pollution, famine and poverty.

The Fergie Factor: A Disruptive Force

Posted on: May 14th, 2013 by admin-kablooey No Comments

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-sir-alex-ferguson-caricature-editorial-use-image29928670After 26 years in charge of Manchester United Alex Ferguson has finally decided to take life a little easier by moving to a new role as a Director and Ambassador for the club. At 71 years of age he wants to move on, he is not as healthy as he used to be and is probably finding it tough to continue his punishing regime, especially when he is in need of a hip replacement operation. He will be aware of his own mortality and will have memories of being by the side of his mentor, the then Scotland manager Jock Stein when he died on the touchline during an international match from a heart attack.

Along the way he has become recognised as the most successful British football manager ever and arguably the world’s greatest. He is a true leader in his field both in achievement and the way he has gone about it. In his managerial career he has won 49 trophies in 39 seasons, including two Champions’ League titles. He has kept Manchester United the top performing team in the Premier League for 20 years, seeing off the challenges of tactician Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, the charisma of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and the vast wealth of Manchester City. While other teams have constantly made managerial changes in the pursuit for glory, Ferguson has remained the captain of the United ship. The once great Liverpool of the 70’s and 80’s are a poor shadow of itself today after a host of poor performing managers with the failures of Graeme Souness still being felt today.

The question has to be how has he done it for so long and so consistently? Those that would like to knock his achievements will point to how his first years at United were not fruitful, that he inherited the Golden Generation of Butt, the Nevilles, Beckham, Giggs ,Scholes and the wealth of United would make anyone succeed. So let’s have a look at how he has done it.

Something that we talk about a lot in TomorrowToday are Disruptive factors in a business. Alex Ferguson was certainly a disruptive factor; he had already proven this in Scotland by upsetting the domination of Rangers and Celtic in Scotland whilst managing Aberdeen. When he arrived at United in 1986 things weren’t quite how he had hoped: the previous manager Ron Atkinson had spent all the money on dubious signings and the Edwards family were looking for a buyer and needed to re-fill the coffers. Ferguson systematically sold most of the players that Atkinson had brought in and United went from a pre-tax loss of £930K in season 87/88 to a profit of over £2 million in 88/89. Utimately the sale fell through, but this gave Ferguson the opportunity to spend time on his youth system, which he passionately believes in. Even though Ferguson was born in 1942 and would be considered to be from the Silent Generation he has great insight and respect from the then young Generation X development players. He went about nurturing them, caring for them and protecting them. He has many times been referred to as a father figure and continues to understand the Generation Y players that he has recently developed. He recognised the talent and went about keeping them. He made sure that they had good contracts, were well paid and looked after. The ensured the talent would have no desire to leave. He did however bring in tough rules that were to be broken at their peril; if they wanted the softer Gen X values, they would have to put up with the tough Silent Generation values of duty, discipline and dedication. Regardless of their stature, if they went against Ferguson’s values they would be subjected to the famous “hairdryer” and found themselves leaving the club regardless of who they were. Just ask Jaap Stam and David Beckham, respectively the world’s best defender at the time and the Golden Boy of English football. He insisted on being called Mr Ferguson or the Boss. He would show great loyalty to players and staff, but it would be according to his rules. By 1989 the chequebook was opened up to him and he brought in a host of talent to complement his budding stars.

He understood that if he were to pay top wages to keep and attract talent it would result in a better league position. A higher league position would result in increased annual revenue and then the cycle would begin again.

He has turned a provincial club with an annual turnover of about £7 million in 1986 to an International Superstar with a turnover of £320 million. He has attracted a host of footballing star talent to the club; Cantona, Keane, Ferdinand, Ronaldo and recently Van Persie. He has retained Giggs, Gary Neville and Scholes for their whole professional playing careers. He has inspired a host of former players to go into management – Robson, Hughes, Bruce, Coppell, Keane, Ince, Kanchelskis and the new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to name a few.

What he has done is truly remarkable and of course there has to be an element of luck in it, but to have remained top of his chosen profession for over 20 years is outstanding He has done it through foresight, planning, understanding, professionalism, recognising talent, hard work and outstanding leadership. These were the Disruptive Factors of Ferguson that he brought into football.

What are the Disruptive factors that you should be looking at in your business sector that are going to change the way you work and operate? Understand these and you too could be the next Ferguson. Ignore them and you could be the next Graeme Souness.

Missing the Point: Control, Leaders & Social Technology

Posted on: December 7th, 2010 by Keith Coats 2 Comments

“Over the last two decades, the world has changed substantially. The economic, political, social, corporate, and personal rules that now apply bear scant relation to those applicable two decades ago. Different times require a different script” writes Kenichi Ohmae in his book titled, The Next Global Stage. Coming to terms with this shift is often easier said than done. When we get used to certain rules – and have learnt to apply them successfully, adjusting to new rules that require a different game plan is tough. Just ask the current herd of Springboks!

One of the most significant of rule changes concerns the growing use of social technologies within society and especially amongst the younger generations (X and Y). The impact of this is beginning to be felt within our organizations and Jensen and Klein in their book, ‘Hacking Work’ suggest that a tipping point of Gen Y in the work place will occur between 2011-2014. Of course this trend will play itself out over time globally. In the face of this the response by leaders is not encouraging. A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a social technology boot camp with a large retail organization with several of the senior leaders present. As much as it was emphasized that one of the shifts required would be an understanding that the control of the conversations has shifted – just look at WikiLeaks – and that an essential leadership conversation in this emerging new world of work is that of ‘control.’ It was a message that fell on deaf ears. Post workshop talk was littered with both overt and subtle tones of being in control. The understanding seemed to be that these new technologies were mere ‘channels’ to market – channels that could and should be controlled.

Such talk misses the point altogether. Whilst these ‘new technologies’ are, in a very narrow sense, channels to market, the revolution they are fuelling extends way beyond such constrictions. They are changing the way people relate and communicate. They are forcing new conversations in transparency, openness and authenticity. They are impacting the very DNA of our organizations and as such require a deep rethink in how leaders lead. Exploring this deeper territory seems to be too threatening for many leaders. Of course one can understand this – such conversations and where they may lead promises a bumpy ride but there is no alternative. It seems easier to flag the concerns (and there are legitimate concerns) rather than embrace the shift – and with that the possibilities.

Engaging the impact social technology will have on how we organize, lead and manage our work place, both internally and externally, will go a long way to determining whether or not we have a future.

If this message rings some alarm bells or resonates and you are looking for a place to start let me recommend three simple things you can do:

  1. Read Charlene Li’s book ‘Open Leadership: how social technology can change the way you lead’. This builds on her earlier co-authored book titled, ‘Groundswell’. Read ‘Hacking Work’ by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein. If this doesn’t scare you, nothing will.
  2. Explore some aspect of social technology with which you are not familiar: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn …doesn’t really matter what it is. You may need help in this and don’t hesitate to ask someone. Tip: Look on the home front first!
  3. Get a group of 20 somethings and have a conversation with them around the subject. Ask a lot of questions and listen hard.

Control. Alt. Delete.

Researching the Millennial Mind with @carol_phillips

Posted on: December 6th, 2010 by admin-kablooey 3 Comments

Carol Phillips is someone I follow on Twitter. If you’re looking for insights and great thoughts around Marketing and Generational Theory, then she’s definitely worth following.

This week she uploaded a presentation onto Slide Share titled, ‘Researching the Millennial Mind‘. You can watch the presentation below, or click directly into Slide Share using the two previous links.

Of course it’s not the same as hearing from her directly, but there are some interesting thoughts for Marketers included on some of the slides.

Mind the Gap: Generations @ Work

Posted on: November 15th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

This is the original submission as published as the Keynote feature in the Journal for Convergence (ISSN 1606-6162), Vol 5 No 4. An even more detailed version of this introduction to generational theory is available on our corporate website in the “white papers” section – download the PDF here.

“We can’t seem to keep our bright young things”. This is the common complaint of businesses around the world these days. Talented employees, especially young people, are not staying, and an older generation of managers don’t know why they can’t keep them. No “quick fix” solutions or simple, 1-2-3 strategies will work. And none of the tried and trusted motivational tools seem to have any effect on this new generation. The solution lies not in more techniques or cuter strategies, but rather in understanding that a radical value system shift is currently taking place in society. This shift is best explained by generational theory.

What are ‘Generations’?[i]

(more…)

An Open Letter To Boomer Bosses Everywhere:

Posted on: October 20th, 2010 by Keith Coats 2 Comments

Dear Wally, (if the name fits or even if it doesn’t…)

I need to speak to you on an important issue.  For some time I have been watching a tsunami looming large on the horizon and it seems that the majority of corporate leaders I get to engage with remain oblivious to the impending danger.  It seems that they continue to believe that the impressive sand castles they have been building on the beach will remain untouched by this looming threat. They won’t.

May I suggest that, regardless of whatever name you go by, that for now you consider ‘Wally’ to be the name that fits best – and I will do the same. Whilst I don’t regard myself as some sort of contemporary Paul Revere, his mission certainly comes to mind as I write to you. Thankfully my means of getting the message out is not dependent on a horse (in his case several horses), my riding skills and ability to navigate the route. Yet, with the same urgency and earnestness of Mr. Revere I write to warn you of an impending danger to the way you live your business. And like Paul Revere, I hope that this too might contribute to a tipping point of awareness that saves the day!

For some time, many have peddled the attraction and retention of  ‘Talent’ as the most significant corporate strategic challenge. The ‘war for talent’, as originally framed by McKinsey’s, was as recently as last year verified as the number one challenge by a global survey and research project done by the Boston Consultancy Group. Of course, this agenda item has played out in different ways and forms depending on where exactly in the world Wally finds himself. This undoubtedly remains a significant strategic challenge and is fuelled by a generational demographic shift that needs to be understood if the threat is to be countered.

But it is not this challenge that I wish to warn you about, although the new threat is not entirely unrelated to the generational shift that is taking place. (more…)

Generation Y young people – NOT coming soon to a bank near you

Posted on: March 31st, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In a report released in February 2010 by Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) (download the PDF here – 2.8Mb), the needs of a younger generation of banking customers was investigated. It makes for interesting reading.

Some of the highlights include the fact that 85% of young people (“Gen Y” – teenagers and 20-somethings) report being satisfied with their current banks. Is that just because they don’t believe they have any possible options? Do they choose banks not on the basis of “the best choice possible”, but rather “the least crappy option”? Tough words, but it would make sense of the data.

More than one-third of Gen Y consumers want help managing their financial affairs and they want help to come from their banks. Most of them actually get advice from friends and family, but they appear dissatisfied with this. Social media is good for finding out what movies are good, but are not considered trustworthy for financial management. They really would like more professional advice. More than one-third of Gen Y prefer using professional advisers as their source for financial advice, ahead of peers, personal research, or automated tools. A very interesting point, though, is how they want this advice. Nearly 40% of young people surveyed would be happy to interact with an adviser via video (as compared to 17% for the over 50s).

It’s not just the medium they’re keen on – it’s also that they can speak to a financial representative from the comfort of their home or office at a time that is convenient for them, not between the hours of 9-5, Monday-Friday.

Banks are also going to have to go mobile. Not just banking from your mobile phone, but genuine app-based thinking and the use of social network mindsets to connect with clients. Read one case study from a Spanish bank here.

And this isn’t all about tapping into the “diet coke and movie” type of money usually associated with student banking. The report estimates that Gen Y are now spending the same amount of discretionary money each day as Baby Boomers are. They don’t have the wealth pot built up yet (but let’s face it, most Boomers don’t have that anymore either), but they’re well on the road to being a significant market for the banks, and a key source of profitability.

That’s going to require banks to change their ways. That might be asking a lot, but if it’s ever going to happen, now would be the time.

You're going to have to change your management style

Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by admin-kablooey No Comments

I spend a large part of my year in conversation with managers working hard to try and understand today’s younger workforce. The pain they’re feeling is palpable. The evidence of change is overwhelming. Making the necessary changes, at times, seems impossible. The hope is that the challenges are being interrogated and slowly but surely acted on.

Business Week has a great article called, Working with China’s Generation Y. It’s a well written article that does a fantastic job describing a younger workforce entering today’s business world in China.

In urban China, Gen Y is a group of exceptionally talented people. No other generation in Chinese history has received such high-quality education for so many people. Chinese Gen Ys are single children born under China’s one-child policy. According to studies such as those by Posten and Falbo of the Guttmacher Institute, China’s solo children perform significantly better academically than peers with siblings. These single children have grown up in traditional extended families (including four grandparents and two parents), under pressure since kindergarten to pass entrance exams. This means that the child’s educational performance has been a top priority for six adults.

The article describes the different approach of this younger set and the challenges that face today’s managers (Baby Boomers and Generation X).

For Gen Y, the good boss is like a kung-fu master who stays in the background, teaching through small hints. The good boss is highly available to his employee and has trust in them. He is balanced and nonemotional. He knows how to share his skills without talking much but rather expresses himself in the right dose, at the right time and place. It is not about telling workers what to do but waiting for the right time to drop by their desk and ask: “Have you asked yourself X? Perhaps you might have tried Y?” Difficult to achieve? Yes, but it is important to show Gen Y why they should respect their boss—and then they will.

I often get the sense that the current set of managers are caught between the reality that they will have to adapt their management style, but also hoping (pleading) that this younger set will do the the adapting, instead of the other way around. Attachment to ‘how it’s always been done’ is a powerful anchor for many managers not wanting to do the work required to make the necessary changes.

Bottom line is that change is required in order to ensure a successful business into the future. It may take some time, but it will have to happen. Today’s younger set will not, and can not change sufficiently. For one, they don’t have a view of ‘how it’s always been done’. They only know who they are, and are going to need those older than them to do the shifting.

You’re going to have to change your management style

Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by admin-kablooey No Comments

I spend a large part of my year in conversation with managers working hard to try and understand today’s younger workforce. The pain they’re feeling is palpable. The evidence of change is overwhelming. Making the necessary changes, at times, seems impossible. The hope is that the challenges are being interrogated and slowly but surely acted on.

Business Week has a great article called, Working with China’s Generation Y. It’s a well written article that does a fantastic job describing a younger workforce entering today’s business world in China.

In urban China, Gen Y is a group of exceptionally talented people. No other generation in Chinese history has received such high-quality education for so many people. Chinese Gen Ys are single children born under China’s one-child policy. According to studies such as those by Posten and Falbo of the Guttmacher Institute, China’s solo children perform significantly better academically than peers with siblings. These single children have grown up in traditional extended families (including four grandparents and two parents), under pressure since kindergarten to pass entrance exams. This means that the child’s educational performance has been a top priority for six adults.

The article describes the different approach of this younger set and the challenges that face today’s managers (Baby Boomers and Generation X).

For Gen Y, the good boss is like a kung-fu master who stays in the background, teaching through small hints. The good boss is highly available to his employee and has trust in them. He is balanced and nonemotional. He knows how to share his skills without talking much but rather expresses himself in the right dose, at the right time and place. It is not about telling workers what to do but waiting for the right time to drop by their desk and ask: “Have you asked yourself X? Perhaps you might have tried Y?” Difficult to achieve? Yes, but it is important to show Gen Y why they should respect their boss—and then they will.

I often get the sense that the current set of managers are caught between the reality that they will have to adapt their management style, but also hoping (pleading) that this younger set will do the the adapting, instead of the other way around. Attachment to ‘how it’s always been done’ is a powerful anchor for many managers not wanting to do the work required to make the necessary changes.

Bottom line is that change is required in order to ensure a successful business into the future. It may take some time, but it will have to happen. Today’s younger set will not, and can not change sufficiently. For one, they don’t have a view of ‘how it’s always been done’. They only know who they are, and are going to need those older than them to do the shifting.

Gen Y in Japan not consumerising

Posted on: February 15th, 2010 by admin-kablooey No Comments

Interesting article from CNN Go Asia on 8 Feb 2010 about Japanese Gen Y simply not buying.

How times have changed. Japan’s Generation Y have become famous for hating to buy anything. They were first reluctant to buy cars. And now we find out that Japanese youth are also disinterested in motorbikes. Sales for 2009 were a mere 10% of the market’s peak some 23 years ago.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this younger set are different. Generational Theory suggests that each generation, based on the world they grow up in, develop a set of values that in places are different to the generations before them, and those to follow.

I guess what can be surprising is just how different they are! The challenge from a marketing and product development perspective is trying to read these trends and shifts in order to respond accordingly and quickly. Around the world, in most countries this market segment is a large segment. They’re large in number and in wallet size. Not seeing their changing needs and wants can be be detrimental to any business setting their sights on them to secure future growth and revenue.

In most developed world economies there is still a healthy baby boomer population to support short term sales and growth, but once they begin to exit the economy, business is going to have to pander to the younger set coming through. The developing world economies don’t have that luxury. They need to adapt and adjust to these young people NOW!

As this article suggests, this particular group in this particular country are not simply interested in a different colour, shape and size. They’re fundamentally different. Business is going to have to radically change how it goes about what it does, or hope and pray like crazy that they’ll change their world view. Fat chance in my opinion.

Free video course on Managing Generation Y at work

Posted on: January 6th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In December 09, Graeme Codrington recorded a series of short videos on Managing Generation Y at Work. This was done with Success.tv in London. These videos are now available for free:

The videos are:

You may also find value in a four minute introduction to our “Mind the Gap” programme for managing multinational and multicultural teams. You will find it here.

Feel free to use these videos in your companies. But, if you’d like more details or have one of our team speak live at your next event, why not contact us and make a booking enquiry.

TIDES of Change: the five trends disrupting business in the next 5 years

Posted on: December 3rd, 2009 by Graeme Codrington 9 Comments

Updated in May 2010

Download a copy of this article in PDF format – right click here. The contents of this article can be presented as a keynote or a workshop for your team. Contact our UK or South African offices to find out how.


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As the world slowly emerges out of recession over the next few years, it will become increasingly clear that this was more than just an economic downturn. Disruptive forces are significantly reshaping the world of work. Some of these changes have been brewing for a decade or more – and now this recession has exacerbated their influence and speeded up their effects. Companies that have survived the downturn need to shift their focus to surviving the upturn. We are not ever going to “get back to normal” – a new normal is emerging for everyone, everywhere.

The most successful companies will be those that find ways to be strategically responsive. To do this, it is important that everyone – at every level of the organisation – has an understanding of the forces that will be shaping the next decade. Some key trends that were already vaguely evident a few years ago have now been catalysed by the downturn, and will fundamentally change the way we work, the rules of the game and the methods by which companies will gain and retain competitive advantage in their industries. When your people understand this, they can contribute meaningfully to your company’s success. You can develop these insights through regular analysis of your environment and strategic conversations throughout your organisation with all of your people. Their understanding will help them buy into your vision and strategies. And it is also essential for problem solving, creativity, innovation and the proactive identification of opportunities and threats in your industry and marketplace.

There are at least five key drivers of disruptive change that every organisation in every industry and sector needs to track. These are the T.I.D.E.S. of change. (It’s a corny acronym, I know, but hopefully it will help with both remembering the framework, as well as making it easy to use on a regular basis in team meetings and informal conversations throughout your organisation). Here then are the key drivers of disruptive change in the next decade, and some questions to ask yourself and your teams as you plan to respond to them:

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