I was born solidly in Generation X time frame. Though the term “Me Generation” was coined for the baby boomers, it was thrown around liberally when I was a young adult (read kid please). My parents, immigrants with a dream that was coming true had come to the USA and worked long hard hours to make that dream happen. Jacqueline and I, as their children had learned at a young age that we were expected to be at their side making this family dream happen. With all that had work, both Jacqueline and I (for very different reasons) will tell you we had magical childhoods. We quickly learned the value of a buck, a strong work ethic and a huge appreciation for the opportunities presented, but still magical.
As I was entering young adulthood, I was called selfish for wanting a better life, or a better way. I knew the label was right; I did want a better way. I had seen my parents working 70 and 80 hour weeks for most of my life. Thankfully with us at their side, so we got to spend plenty of time together, but I was going to be okay with a 60 hour work week, thank you very much. Papa was appalled. How did I ever think I would succeed with that kind of mentality?
Today, one of my many passions is openings. When you are in the middle of an opening, those hours and even Papa’s crazy hours are the norm. I don’t mind. On the other hand when not in middle of the insanity of opening a project, I have found that I work hard and take care of business, but I don’t believe in “face time” or martyrdom. Heaven forbid, I find a work/life balance is important. If that means that I absolutely have to be on site on a Saturday night for whatever client function, then I need to be on site. That is the industry I chose. If I don’t need to be there on Tuesday all day, I will take a chunk of time to make up for it, or not.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like some of the characteristics of the most recent “Me, Me, ME Generation”. Many of them have learned to look at a problem and find the quickest possible solution. Not the expected way to complete but the quickest, and often, that way is satisfactory.
Hospitals and Hotels, back when I was that “kid” we were the only things open 24/7. Today Super Wal-Mart, McDonald's, your chain pharmacy and plenty of grocery stores are also open 24/7. For the first time ever, I LOVE my bank. They may not be open 24/7, but they are open 7 days a week! This year I had to raise an eyebrow with the boycotts that didn’t exactly hurt Thanksgiving shopping. How dare stores not let their families spend Thanksgiving together! I don’t disagree, and personally won’t shop on Thanksgiving day (unless it’s the grocery store for last minute supplies that we forgot). But I will admit to going to a movie on Thanksgiving, and trust me when I tell you it is one of the busiest days at the restaurants who do choose to “make their employees work the holiday”. And as a result I do put together a schedule for full coverage at my Hotels for every Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Day, and yes even Mother’s Day and all the rest of the holidays that it just seems unseemly to make others work. Double standard??? Most definitely. Our society requires these amenities and conveniences. It is part of the entitlement.
Ahhh entitlement. Remember I was part of one of those earlier “Me Generations”. Thank you Burger King. I was told…actually sung to, that I could have my burger my way. Remember that jingle? Today’s “Me, Me, ME Generation” was raised and still drinks the Kool-Aid that costs them daily at least $4 a Venti and, (this is the important part) they can have it made fresh while they wait, a different way every day of the year and never run out of new options.
Ahhh entitlement. That, my friends, is where the rubber meets the road. We have raised (and by we, I mean you, I don’t have kids and I am not allowed to have this opinion) this “Me, Me, ME Generation” to be entitled to have their coffee served any way they want it anytime they want it. That has also translated to how they work, on their terms. This is great…unless you are trying to schedule Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day, or the overnight shift, or Saturday night, or, or, or. Who is going to make that Venti before you head out shopping on Thanksgiving if you are not willing to work the not so fun shift?
I think what we all forget is that we all start our career wanting exactly what Mom and Dad have now. However we forget that Mom and Dad worked for 20 to 30 years to get that stuff. We also forget or didn’t see what Mom and Dad went through to get to where they are today. We also have these pre-teens expecting to be handed the iPhone or iPad, when we worked and bought our first Walkman with hard earned lawn money or baby-sitting money or even allowances. Or, is their iPhone our pink princess phone extension in our rooms?
Bridging the gap between generations when a new one enters the work force is a learning experience for both generations, neither of which is particularly tolerant. History has shown that the younger generation adapts what they believe they deserve fresh into the work force, while the older generation learns how to do business in a new way and adapt their needs to a new type of work force. Are our pains (and they are pains) any different than those of our predecessors? You tell me, have you found ways to work around this conundrum?