Generation Y (And Z)

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genY-0810If you think it was tough getting old people in your company to adopt new technology, wait until you see how tough it will be for YOU to employ new talent.

Generation Y is entering the workforce and they grew up not just playing video games, but mastering them on the first try. They never knew a day without cell phones (and they are OK with the quality issues — they don’t complain nearly as much about it as you do) and they would rather communicate via email than in person.

You, on the other hand, think that personal contact is the best way to make and cultivate relationships, you would rather call and leave a voicemail than send an email. You feel that mentoring someone has to be in person. Right?

Generation Y thinks you dress terribly and that you must be uncomfortable in those clothes, they wonder why it takes so long for you to make a decision and they can’t understand why you stock so much wire when the world’s going wireless.

You think they’re spending too much time on their computer Googling stuff, think that the Facebooking they’re doing all the time is a giant black hole of time-wasting and you’re actually pondering blocking YouTube on your network — a sort of “punish the masses for the sins of a few” philosophy that must still work.

They think you’re old and irrelevant, except for the fact that you gave them a job.

But, wait til you see the next generation: Generation Z

Generation Z has now entered college and they seldom use email (just ask your kids – they’re TEXTING) as it’s too slow, they don’t write with pencils or pens, they don’t watch TV (they stream it when they want it) and they would never buy something that wasn’t totally wireless.

But, have no fear, you’ve got a few more years before you have to deal with them.

Let’s focus on Generation Y and how you CAN leverage their talents:

1. Relationship Sales: They DO, in fact, believe in the value of relationship sales – but they think your way of doing it is, well, stodgy. And, truly, it is. In fact, their way of building relationships is quite amazing. Using the “friend of a friend” philosophy, they leverage their Facebook Friends and their IM buddies to get whatever information they want or need. And, they do it quickly! Keep an open mind as, truth be told, we took way, way too long to build most of the relationships we have. And, we certainly don’t leverage them as well as we could.

2. Personal Technology Tools: Generation Y doesn’t know a day where a laptop wasn’t around. They expect to be connected to the Internet all the time and they have mastered the ability to find software tools quickly — without the days or research we’ve typically put in to find some software app. that will make us more efficient, ironically. As stated above, they use their friends and their friends of friends to find out what’s out there, what’s working (and what doesn’t) and they’re right 90 percent of the time. And when they’re wrong, they don’t dwell upon it — they move along to something else that works.

3. Social Media: Generation Y does this better than anyone. They know and understand social media way, way better than anyone else in your company — especially your marketing department who, by the way, is just out to get more money. Why would they recommend social media marketing tools when they’re free?  Don’t assign your social media marketing strategy to some 35-year-old marketing person, assign it to those that not only use it, but have lived with it for years.

4. Bouncing: Look, Generation Y will be honest and tell you that, although 3D is cool, it’s a fad that will never catch on in every home in America. Sure you might not want to hear what they have to say all the time, but they’ll explain that, logically, the hassle of the glasses, the lack of comfort and the inability to create the environment (in most homes) that makes 3D truly immersive will keep it from being mainstream. Sure, they’ll sell it for you, but don’t expect them to endorse it. Use Generation Y to bounce new technologies off of. Streaming vs. CableTV/SatelliteTV, place shifting vs. living room watching, whole house audio vs. personal audio players, etc. They’ve got a pulse on what’s likely to fly. What’s cool to us aging AV geeks may just be hackneyed to those living in technology, and not just talking about technology.

Look, what I’m trying to say is simple: leverage your new talent. You may not realize it, but you’re hiring people that know A LOT more than you do and, in the end, they’ll make you look better — remember, you’re the boss. But, you’ve got to be open-minded that you, in fact, may not know what’s best for your company or your clients in this new day and age.

And, that phone screen, to them, is way bigger than they ever thought they would need… Still squinting???