Gen Y Confusing Workplace With Geekspeak and Chatty IMs

Posted on September 5, 2006

MSNBC.com has an article that should be of great interest to today's text-messaging youth. The article says that some employers are concerned by the fact that young new employees never come and talk to them.
Nor should they. Those skills are big assets when it comes to multi-tasking and productivity. But they're also a nightmare for many of their bosses, those over 35 who understand that while technology is a useful tool, it doesn't replace relationship building as a primary means for doing business. Today's bosses can't understand why their young recruits, for all their brains and technical acumen, hardly ever come over and actually talk to them.

"I hear from clients that [young professionals'] first instinct is to IM rather than walk over to their boss's office. That can be OK for a quick question, but when you're planning something, you need to talk face-to-face," says Steven Rothberg, founder of Collegerecruiter.com, who places recent graduates into corporate jobs.

The tech disparity between 20-somethings and 40-somethings is far greater today than it was 20 years ago, when today's 40-somethings were the young turks. Over 17 percent of today's workforce is between the ages of 25 and 34, while another 28 percent is made up of employees 55 and over, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show.

That breakdown is not much different than in many past years. But what is different is the speed of technological progress since the mid-1990s, from the Internet and e-mail to cell phones and instant messaging. A recent survey by outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison shows that 60 percent of U.S. corporations acknowledge having workplace tensions among generations.
The generational gap is real. Many adults have not immersed themselves in the latest Web 2.0 technology. Many of them only recently became comfortable with email.
Ruth Sherman, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based communications consultant whose client roster includes Deloitte, Pfizer and Bank of America, says common complaints about younger workers range from lame handshakes and poor conversational skills to super-casual attire and personal use of company e-mail. Some show up at job interviews in tee shirts. What the Gen Yers don't see, she says, is the meaning and value of gestures and other non-verbal skills that don't come through in a text message.

"My clients are frustrated; a lot of them are throwing up their hands because they can't persuade young people to get it," Sherman says.

Carl Tyler, a veteran of Lotus and IBM who now runs Instant Technologies, an enterprise IM software group, thinks one of the biggest etiquette breaches by Gen Y recruits involves newbies typing paragraph upon paragraph of chat.

"It's a new medium, don't treat it like e-mail," Tyler says.�
If you are the new Gen Y recruit try and put yourself in the shoes of your elders. Go visit the boss for something important occasionally instead of sending him an IM full of geekspeak he won't understand.