My Expectations and Outdated Conventions – Could I Have Been Wrong?

All these years when adults have been trying to speak to their children and they have been interrupted by sounds of text messaging, computer programs, game systems, cell phones, were the children just being rude or were they really just multi-tasking?  A Deloitte Human Resources article recently stated that Gen Xers and Gen Yers are more likely to be skilled at multi-tasking, agile in making decisions, flexible and persistent in the face of change, and highly skilled in team oriented environments.

When I’ve been attempting to engage in conversation, meaningful or otherwise, with my kids:

  • Struggling to get their attention as the latest song on Guitar Hero blares from the surround sound on our TV set and the music and scrolling notes turn them into an incarnation of the rock stars on the screen,
  • Or when we’re driving down the road, talking about something really serious, at least to me, and that darned “blip” on their cell phones keeps signaling another incoming text message,
  • Or the times when I’m about to share my life’s wisdom with them, and I hear Dave Chappelle’s or Dane Cook’s voice and colorful language cut through my concentration from some YouTube video on their computers,

Could I have been wrong all these years to assume that they were simply being rude, or that they lacked the ability to concentrate for more than a few moments?

Isn’t it possible that they were merely MULTI-TASKING and better preparing themselves for
life after college?

Maybe I should be counting my blessings. That’s what is suggested by a Deloitte Human Resources report titled: Connecting Across the Generations in the Workplace: What Business Leaders Need to Know to Benefit from Generational Differences.

Gen Xers and Gen Yers are the first generations to grow up with computers and the Internet as part of their lives. Constant experience in the networked world has had a profound impact on their approach to problem-solving and collaboration. While Baby Boomers see video games as diversions or toys, for Gen Xers and Gen Yers they are something distinctly different. The next generation of workers is coming into the workforce with networking, multiprocessing,and global-mindedness skills that their elders never could have imagined.

Experience with interactive media such as instant messaging, text messaging, blogs, and especially multi-player games has led many young people to develop new skills, new assumptions and new expectations about their employers. Current research suggests, for example, that gaming can be excellent preparation for business. Serious gamers (Gen Xers and Gen Yers) are likely to be:

  • More skilled at multi-tasking
  • Agile in making decisions, evaluating risks and managing dilemmas
  • Flexible and persistent in the face of change
  • Highly skilled in social networking and team activities.

So maybe I should just back off and be grateful that my kids are better positioned to compete and find happiness and fulfillment in today’s world, especially given the fact that the labor market is shrinking, they’ll have more career options than ever before, and they value flexibility and fulfillment – and are increasingly finding ways to achieve them.

Special thanks to Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist, not only for tracking down and posting the Deloitte survey on her blog, but also for her always thought-provoking discussions.

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