GenerationXpert post on Millenial whining in the workplace

I knew reading this post would only serve to irritate me but I read it anyway. It wasn’t GenerationXpert that irritated me. We’re both Xers and that seems to keep us rather sympatico.

It was rather the articles/posts that she links to. I suppose there is not escaping the whiny blathering of some Millennials (in addition to Boomers.) The shit of it is the Millennial chatter is only going to increase in volume and frequency, as that generation swells and ages, bloating like corpse left to rot in the sweltering heat (ew!). And while I’d like to believe that the Boomer blathering will gradually diminish, somehow I don’t really believe it. GenX is being surrounded.

Still, what really offends me is not that these Millennials have issues with GenXer in the work place (they wouldn’t be Millennials if they did NOT have issues of one kind or another and did NOT verbalize that at every freakin’ opportunity — chatter chatter chatter) as the lame way they make their arguments.

Check the lead in on this article about GenX vs Gen Y (the authors terminology; I find Gen Y to a pretty soggy label, worst than most, I mean) :

We all have stories about a loss of our identity to a Gen X’er.

Beginning with such a generalization is enough to dismiss the remainder of the article out of hand. But I figured I’d read on anyway. Of course, I was rewarded with this whining line of reasoning:

Whether they squashed our ideas, sabotaged our projects, or just simply bad-mouthed us for no apparent reason, they can always find something to deter us from success. This is not true of all Gen X’ers, just like not all of us are lazy, spoiled brats. Not all Gen X’ers feel threatened by us; there’s getting to be less & less every day. However our motivation and tech knowledge seem to make many of them squirm. We are their replacements; we are a threat to their job. No longer is the workforce built around “working your way up the ladder.” It is based on who can provide the best ideas, knowledge or sales volume. When it comes down to it, who is more valuable to company’s functionality and profitability?

Sounds to me like someone can’t take criticism. Of course not; we’re talking about a generation that was applauded for pooping in the potty until they left for college. Hell, they probably got trophies and ribbons for it, not to mention the weekly email or text from mom and dad, once they were at college, complimenting them on a weeks worth of sussfull BMs — that’s mommy’s good little pooper!

But it was so nice of the author concede that not all GenXers are cynical jerks. Thanks. We appreciate that. Sincerely. It means so much coming from an award-winning pottier.

I don’t actually know of any GenXers who feel threatened by Millennials. That is a notion that lives the folklore of Millennials minds. We are plenty comfortable with technology. In fact, we invented much of it that you utilize so regularly — facebook, Myspace, Google, etc. And just because you can facebook, twitter and operation your iPhone all at the same time does not mean you deserve the GenXer’s job in the Technical Support department. Get over yourselves already — a wasted lament on the bulk of Millennials, I know, but still it needed to be said.

Millennials might just want to consider, just consider the possibility that just because their mommies and daddies think their idea are good does not mean they really are. Just put it in the background there, is all I’m saying. Something to think about. Also, they might want to give just tiny bit of credence to the experience that GenXer have on them. It does, it turns out, count for something.

Of course, Millennials, virtually lacking in experience at this stage in the game, value other things:

However, as Gen Y’ers, we love to rock the boat – stir everything up a little. It helps us get the ideas flowing. When we see an opportunity, we go for it.

Wow. I thought Generation X was supposed to be the sound bite generation. What the fuck does any of that mean, anyway?

The author admits that “Of course it backfires many times…”

Really? I’m shocked.

She further states that: “…we are not afraid to go straight to the top with our opinions and ideas, and that is what makes us indispensable assets to many companies.”

I’ve heard this is true, but I’d venture to guess it was what makes them annoying and obnoxious to many companies. Perhaps she didn’t get to that word in her word-a-day calander that she got from her Boomer rents on the last anniversary of her kindergarten soccer trophy award, which was given to her just for showing up and running around in circles on the field. Yipee!

“Change is what our country was founded on, and change is what we love,” the author writes.

Really. I thought it was freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She’s thinking of Obama’s campaign slogan. And needs to be reminded that change for change’s sake is bullshit, something GenX is very good as detecting. Like this load here:

We have a knack for seeing opportunities where others don’t, and if we don’t see any, we make them. This is what infuriates some Gen X’ers. They feel they have put in their time, paid their dues, and should live out their remaining time reaping the benefits of their hard work. I’m not going to deny that many of them deserve this privilege. My parents were incredibly hard workers and deserve some residual reward, but they expect me to take the same approach that they did.

First, your sense of over-inflated self-esteem is showing. Might want to tamp that down before you– fuck it, you’re not listening.

Generation X isn’t so much infuriated by Millennials as we are annoyed. Don’t listen to us if you don’t want to. That’s fine. But if that’s you tact, then you can fuck off with your ideas as well!

Of course, it is so nice of this author to concede that many of Generation X deserve what we have worked for. Now it is fucking official. Bite us. Hard. And with relish. Or mustard. You can pick the condiment. We don’t care.

But clearly there is no stopping this overly enthusiastic Millennial, ramped up on her own sense of self-worth:

When I see what I want, I go for it. If I see an awesome opportunity, I take advantage of it. And I have very little patience for those who try to stand in my way. The result: I sometimes crash and burn because of my intense enthusiasm, but sometimes I create amazing things that no one else was able to do.

Note: no example of an awesome opportunity taken advantage of is described. Why not? It would only take a sentence or two. Not to mention I assume were talking about the average corporate, cube land, Dilbert-esque office experience here, in which case there is no such things as an “awesome opportunity.” It’s just not possible.

The crashing and burning is entertaining, though. So keep right on charging that bull, baby. You’re gonna make it after all!

In any case, the author doesn’t get Gen X. When she states that Gen X is loyal to the company, she’s wrong. We’re loyal to ourselves and our families, our friends too (real friends, not the 700 people you’ve “friended” on facebook). Fuck the company! Any company.  We’ve long since lost any naive belief that any company is worth pledging total loyal allegiance to. We show up. We do our jobs, and do them as well as we can, so we can support our families and our lives. But of course portraying us as otherwise fits neatly into the author’s little fiction here.

I really loved this argument:

How about the job where the project manager was terrible at communication or the place where the bookkeeper was disorganized? Remember how that messed up your ability to work effectively?

It’s always somebody else’s fault isn’t it. One can only hope (beyond hope perhaps, but hey, if Obama, a GenXer, can win The White House then all of Generation X can hope for something) that Millennials will not prove to be a generation refusing to take responsibility for their mistakes while grubbing for the limelight and credit, even when they don’t deserve it. But I ain’t holding my breath.

The articles wraps up thusly:

Enter, The Freelancer.

Rather than hiring someone for a permanent position or risking the failure of someone who is not well-qualified, the company can hire a freelancer for a certain project or period of time. You can get a freelancer for almost any position – project manager, consultant, designer, office work, etc. Freelancers often work on several “jobs” at one time depending upon the requirements of each job. You can hire them once or repeatedly. Gen Y’ers are often great freelancers, because we like change so much, and we have high-level skills in a small number of areas, whereas Gen X’ers sometimes have a slightly lower level of skills, but their knowledge base is much broader.

This is why, in theory, Gen Y and Gen X work well together. It´s when you add in resistance to change or an attitude of superiority that the mixture gets a little sour. If we can learn to understand and respect the Gen X’ers patterns, and they ours, maybe the workplace would mean profit for our efforts and not punishment. Change will undoubtedly happen in time, but anything we can do to smooth the road on the way there will benefit all involved.

Yeah, Generation X called this being a temp. And it sucked. No job security. No benefits. Still, we were good at it. What choice did we have? But apparently not as good as Millennials will be, or so they think. The thing is most temp work, or freelance work if you want to call it that, is shlep work and not very interesting or rewarding. That’s just the nature of it. Why would you hire someone you don’t know and can’t be sure is as super-qualified as she think she is to take charge of something really worthwhile and important? You want someone you know, you can trust, with a track record that you’ve witnessed. Forget the freelancer who can up and jump to another company a month down the road. Go with the loyal employee that you’re invest in and that is invested in the company.

FYI: Gen X isn’t resistant to change. We’re just skeptical of change for change sake. It’s a waste of time, money and resources, and companies can’t really afford any of that, especially in this economy, just to validate the fragile egos of  over eager Millennials.

Also, don’t kid yourself Millennials, many Gen Xer are not interested in working well with you. We’re interested in you doing your job as detailed in the job description presented to you when you agreed to take the fucking job. Do it. Do it well. And stop annoying everyone with the legend of yourself as uber-corporate super star. We get it. We do. You have no shame. But while you’re grandstanding we’re doing the nitty gritty work that needs to be done to get the job done. You’d know that if you stopped chattering long enough to realize what it really going on around you.

Thus endeth the lesson.


13 responses to “GenerationXpert post on Millenial whining in the workplace

  1. someone posted this article as an example of how wrong I am to think Gen Y’ers are smug. Maybe I missed something, but I came to many of the same conclusions you did. They think they invented this thing called freelancing, yet during the 90’s we (the X’ers) perfected this idea, which allows all these Y kids to be who they are.

    Constantly taking risks and failing is not a good model. The reason they don’t see this is because these “risky opportunities” are not that big of a risk and if they do fail, well, they live at home anyway, so what did they actually lose?

    And what amazing things have you done that no one else can do? I think they are things you haven’t done before. Big difference.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Craig!

    I don’t know if I necessarily think of Millennials (Gen Yers) so much as smug as just a little too pleased with themselves at times. Perhaps there isn’t much of a difference to most people, but for me I can’t help thinking that they are fairly unaware of how them come off to Gen Xers, and others in general. I suppose one could write this obliviousness off to youth. Fine. But that hardly makes one exempt from criticism.

    In theory I’m for “risk taking,” but I agree with your assessment. The so-called risks that Millennials seem to believe that they are taking hardly qualify as real risk at all. In fact, one might see what these little upstarts to do as just reactionary. They don’t really think. They just do. Another trait that could be written off to youth, immaturity and inexperience. But again it does not exempt one from critique. If you don’t like being told that you’re not the latest and greatest thing since cable TV then perhaps you should work for you Mommy and/or Daddy. Or start your on business. Or please do be a permanent freelancer, and check in five or ten years from now and let us know how those Ramen noodles are still tasting to you. Mmm Mmm good!

    I realize that all the eager little Millennials are just bugging to climb the ladder of success blah blah blah. But they’re going to have to learn, just as Gen X did (and them some) that there is some dues paying along the way. Like it, don’t like, their choice, but it if a reality.

    Finally, I can’t help noting that many, if not most or even all, of the opinions I’ve read/heard from Millennials tends to have the undercurrent of trying to deflect criticism, bad vibes, a bummer attitude blah blah blah. They’re not used to it, don’t know how to deal with it. Of course they don’t. They’ve had so much parental sunshine pumped up their asses that they’ve actual come to believe that it actually rises and sets via their collective anus.

    You know, in my less-than-admirable moments, I sometimes wish that Obama had not won, just so these little cretins could get a dose of the kind of smack down that GenXers have been being forced fed for a good part of their lives. But then I imagine McCain (whom I actually like) and Palin running the country and think, Fuck that!

    In any case, Millennials can try to keep GenXer from saying what they think but it ain’t gonna happen. If the very formidable, older, more calculating and manipulative Boomers couldn’t do it, Gen Y certain can’t.

    Thus endeth the lesson, part deux.

  3. I agree with you that the Millennials generally don’t take criticism well, and if they do, they merely dismiss it as someone else’s bummer attitude.

    But I respectfully disagree with you in one respect — some of them scare the shit out of me in the workplace, because they are going to climb right past us on the proverbial ladder. Most of the bosses (Boomers and X’ers alike, sadly) love these dandy Millennials for their confidence and their pluck — they’re like the next new thing, and they’re pushing us out of the way, dues-paying be damned (or else, they’re paying their dues in different ways — perhaps we were the last generation to pay our dues by working hard and waiting around for the next generation to retire to gain a promotion; as bullshit as we knew that to be, many of us had to suck it up and do it that way).

    More importantly, they’re relatively cheaper to a corporation than we are — that is, they’ll work for less money because they’re younger, don’t have the same obligations those of us 15 years older have, etc. In a failing/ed economy, where quality and institutional knowledge is less and less a concern for our corporations (and has been for a long time), who do you think is going to get laid off first? Not the Boomers, who are still in the positions of most power. Not the cheaply paid, enthusiastic Millennials. Nah, companies are going to cut from the middle — us.

    • Point taken, Icepick.

      Actually, I have to defer to you since I don’t work in a corporate setting. And while I do work with one Millennial he’s not of the ilk described in the post above. If he was he wouldn’t be working where we work, doing what we do.

      You know, Howe and Strauss predicted in their book, 13th Gen, that Millennials would likely climb bast GenXers in the work place. Perhaps they were right on that count.

      I suppose that there is something kind of endearing about this mass of chipper young go-getters. They’re like a bunch of little sunshiny day Ronald Regans, with their naive optimism and their ability (or inability, depending on how you look it at) to synthesize “negative” information because it just too much of a bummer. But it is pretty easy to have a positive attitude when you haven’t had an real responsibility yet or screwed the pooch in a very major and public way. Let’s see if when (because it is only a matter of when) they fall far and hard if they can sing a song of six pence then. Perhaps they will. Kudos to them in that case.

      Too true that they are cheaper to the corporations NOW. But eventually at least some of them are going to marry and want homes and all that BS, and then they’ll, ahem, demand they be paid what they are worth. Then what? We’ll see, I suppose. Still, you’re right, in the short term, yeah, corps. may very likely lay off the GenXers just because they make more money, but that could back fire on them as well. Especially when the job hopping Millennials that they’re counting on to captain their boats decide that they’d rather do something more “fun” and “exciting” and, well, just “different” because they have the attention span of nats, and dog gone it their bored.

      I guess my point is (and I think I have one…somewhere around here, dammit) is that Generation X has developed a talent for existing on the fringes and thriving despite that. And there may just come a day when we’ll be needed. You know, like when the Millennial so in a rush to be in charge and run things discovers that it gets in the way of “Living first, and then working” as I believe the author of the piece says. Generation X will be there.

      Or we may just be terminally fucked. So we go underground again and…do whatever the fuck we want, which is what so many did before.

      One thing is certain. GenXers are much better equipped than Millennials to weather the coming economic downturn, if for no other reason than we’ve done it already. Perhaps not on the same scale, but still….

  4. Great dialogue, great commentary. I linked to this in my latest blue plate special. I feel like I haven’t visited your blog in a month. I’ve been out of town and occupied (pre) with sick family, dying grandma, etc.

  5. Hey, Jen. Thanks for the link to your blue plate special. I love that title, btw.

    It’s funny you say that. I always feel like I don’t visit/comment enough on your blog. Please don’t feel badly.

    Sorry to hear about your recent troubles. I’ll be keeping good thoughts for you.

    I did show my daughter the pics on your sight of the Xmas decorated house(s). She loves Xmas lights. But then, I don’t know a kid that doesn’t.

  6. hello there – across from jenx – interesting thoughts …. Here in Aust we just don’t get the same vibe to the same extent – think we all have permanent sunstoke or something …. gen y’s are still kinda lame and I have sacked lots of them – says more about me as a grumpy ole x than them I think – cheers le

  7. I’ve been laughing about “award winning pottier” for days now. I don’t have anything nearly as eloquent or profound to add as the rest of your readership, but “award winning pottier” takes the top spot for awesome things I’ve heard in December.

    • Thanks. Every once in awhile, I get off a pretty good zinger! But it often requires one to wade through a lot of unfunny bile. Hey. You work with what you go, right.

  8. I must say that certain Gen Yers seem rather whiny. I understand it was just how they were raised. OTOH Gen Xers are used to not being heard and so don’t expect be heard. Boomers have dominated society and now society will be dominated by Gen Yers.

    This generation coming into the workplace is the largest generation ever. Just by force of numbers, they will get their way. They’ll spend their whole lives with everyone focused on them. Although, there may be some divine justice when they find themselves the majority. When the Boomers are retired and dying off, they’ll have no one else to blame and they’ll have to start whining about themselves.

    Still, I suspect that we Gen Xers will always be a scape goat for Gen Yers. Gen Xers will treat Gen Yers better than Boomers treated us, but we won’t coddle them like their used to. Gen Yers are a force to be reckoned with, but they’re groupthink attitude doesn’t make them the most thoughtful of generations. Constant technological interaction doesn’t allow time for thoughtfulness.

    Despite our small size, Gen Xers will have to attempt to be the leaders. I think Gen X does have this potential. We’re used to influencing culture behind the scenes. We’ve had a surprisingly big impact on society. We’ll just have to be content with getting our way as long as we let Gen Y get all the credit. Boost the egos of Gen Y and I suspect they’ll make good followers. Essentially, they want to be followers, to follow the crowd.

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