MY development, MY career. What, I’m selfish?

They say one of the reasons why a New Normal for jobs needs to be established is the generational shift in our workplace. Often the conflict is characterized as the struggle between the different working styles of the Boomers, GenXers, and Millennials but I think there is also an interaction with the different workplaces that can be characterized as such as well. The cultures, independent of the time they were founded but informed by them, can be influencers on the individuals who work at these organizations as much as the employees’ impact on the cultures. And that complexity is easily lost in translation.

A recent article in Forbes laments the shift (“Millennial Generation’s Non-Negotiables: Money, Fame And Image” http://onforb.es/FQhok1) to the ‘me’ generation workforce. I don’t argue that there has not been a shift, but I am not so sure about the assumption that people’s attitudes towards work has a cyclical nature.

I see some links between what is perceived as individualism and work that leadership development and talent management professionals have been doing to get people to own their development and own their careers. We tell leaders to help people help themselves, and that management has turned the corner from paternalism to a more cooperative and innovative values-based situational framework. This sets the stage for people to find what they want to do for a living based on what they are good at, and for companies to recruit workers who expect to be developed and nurtured.

And then we call them “millenial” and “selfish.”  I’m not saying that some of the broader critiques of the Kardashian generation aren’t justified – but the interplay between the observed phenomena and what structures, policies, and procedures are considered to be the cutting-edge of human resources and organizational development also needs to be considered.

An extreme example of this is the CultureRx organization’s ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) initiative that’s getting quite a bit of attention lately (http://www.gorowe.com/).  Their position is that as long as an employee is getting her job done well, then the organization should not control her time, resulting in greater ownership of the task and the goals of the company. I’m not skeptical but I know this may only work in some environments. But if this is where even a portion of our organizations are going, why should we fault the up-and-coming workforce for expecting it as such?

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One Comment to “MY development, MY career. What, I’m selfish?”

  1. I found this blog article after publishing the post today: “A workscape perspective” (http://www.jarche.com/2012/03/a-workscape-perspective/). Check it out!

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