How can I cope with Gen Y know-it-alls?

Dear Aunty B,

Those Gen Ys give me a headache. Many are great at what they do. Unfortunately, many more think they know everything, don’t respect any experience and expertise (apart from their own), and then whine or get aggressive if they detect the slightest hint of constructive criticism. (Wow, you’re a whole two years out of a second-rate uni arts degree. Let me genuflect to your superior insight and intellect.)

Their behaviour is strange and inappropriate in a corporate environment. They eat meals at their desks, insist they have the right to inflict their music on the entire office, and think it’s OK discuss their sex lives and menstrual cycles in the middle of meetings. One uses what he thinks is trendy slang, even though it is probably offensive to colleagues and clients. Am I a fogey at 40? How do I handle them? And where should we (SME owners and managers) draw the line?

CJ, Sydney

Hi Fogey. Well, my fork was midway to my mouth when I opened your email. (I am sending you the dry cleaning bill.) Bad news, Fogey. The Gen Ys are redefining behavior in the corporate environment whether you like it or not.

First, face facts. Gen Ys DO know everything – everything that is, that they need to know. They know how to spend your money, demanding the latest chairs, phone systems, computers and gadgets. They also know how to wheedle a pay rise, time off to study AND happily saunter out mid afternoon to spend an hour at the nearby gym! And they know how to make you feel like a fogey, give you a headache and burn toast in the kitchen. (How about those disgusting noodles they cook – or should I say drown in hot water?)

But face it Fogey. Who do you turn to for the latest on the web? Who set up your BlackBerry? Who would you rather sit next to at the pub? (I’ll take that last one back.) You must take back some control and here are some suggestions.

Take offensive slanger by the ear and tell him he is out on his ear if he doesn’t start to use appropriate language. Have a strict agenda for meetings and if anyone strays on to their sex life, jab the paper impatiently (try NOT to look sex-starved, out of your depth or desperately un-INTERESTED) and point out that sex is not on the agenda. Ditto menstrual cycles.

Re lunch: remind then that the fumes from two-minute noodles is killing the ozone and melting the ice caps. As for music, let’s face it: if you are going to insist that YOUR music (from the 1980s, I presume?) is played in the office, they will leave. And quite frankly, they have every right to.

What are you waiting for? Email your questions, problems and issues to [email protected] right now!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments