Gen Y’s Audacity of Hope

In July of 2009, Tammy Tsang, Founder of My Loud Speaker, and I were discussing an interesting topic: the experience of the Gen Y’s who at that point were just starting to leave university and enter the white collar workforce.

We are now 3 years further along and this topic is still getting a lot of attention.  By way of example, Tammy is also the Executive Director of XYBOOM, a conference that “raises awareness about the importance of intergenerational dialogue and collaboration in the context of youth unemployment and the baby boomer exit”.  Here is a XYBOOM Conference 2012 commercial (video) for the inaugeral conference held on January 20th, 2012.

My July 2009 response to a post on Tammy’s blog may have collected 3 years worth of digital dust, however, when I stumbled on it today, I found the ideas were still indicative of my current thinking.  So, for your perusal, here it is…

It’s certainly an interesting topic, Tammy. 

I think that one consequence often missed during discussions in this area is ‘lost opportunity’.  Many ambitious NewGens do have audacious hopes and dreams, as you pointed out.  These hopes and dreams represent an enormous reservoir of untapped potential energy and talent.

It’s unfortunate that the cultures of so many organizations are extremely efficient at crushing the spirit of those with the ‘audacity of hope’.  We often hear, “don’t try to motivate people, focus on what already motivates them.”  Perhaps there is some relation between people’s hopes and dreams and their motivation…  perhaps at least a slight chance there’s a connection between the two? 

If energy is analogous to motivation and talent is about ability, we can setup an equation to look at performance potential.  Degree of motivation + degree of ability = performance potential.  [Motivation + Ability = Performance]

It doesn’t take a degree in mathematics to understand what happens to the performance of young professionals who find themselves on the teams of older experienced managers that are unreceptive to their hopes and dreams.  A decreased degree of motivation among young workers is equivalent to lost individual and organizational performance – and destruction of stakeholder value. 

But can it be recovered? 

The research says that the most resilient people possess (1) good self-esteem, (2) a sense of control over one’s destiny, and (3) a strong dose of optimism.  Many NewGens are entering the workforce with all of these, from the way you have described them. 

Some ‘OldGens’ (?) that are encountering these resilient NewGens believe that these dreamers need a dose of reality.  To know that nothing comes easy.  That there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  That an expectation of immediate gratification is not socially, environmentally, or economically sustainable.

And they would have a point…


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