Why Generation Y should and can start a revolution
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Why Generation Y should and can start a revolution

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Speech given on September 22nd for Young Cargill Netherlands, titled; let's start a revolution! This speech tells the story of a generation that can and must use its creative and imaginary power to ...

Speech given on September 22nd for Young Cargill Netherlands, titled; let's start a revolution! This speech tells the story of a generation that can and must use its creative and imaginary power to help the organizations they work for adapt to all the challenges we are facing. A nice mixture of theory; humour and activist language.

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    Why Generation Y should and can start a revolution Why Generation Y should and can start a revolution Document Transcript

    • Let’s start a revolution: I know you can do it. Speech given on 22nd of September, during Kick-Off Meeting Young Cargill Netherlands, by Squarewise Consultant Martine Verweij Disclaimer- There only three things I would like to share with you.. which I will repeat at the end. So don’t worry if you fall asleep or want to multitask during this talk. I am one of you. I understand. So how did I get here. Basically that is not a very long story. Jan van Vilsteren, a good friend of mine, asked me to be here today. Over dinner about two weeks ago, we discussed what I was going to say in front of all of you. And more importantly. What I wasn’t supposed to say. As dinner progressed and the second and third glass of wine were served, I realized that I was actually being given all the freedom. NO boundaries. Complete freedom of speech. What an amazing feeling. So here I am. With this incredible opportunity to do exactly as I please. Be the stubborn and arrogant me; make bold statements about my generation. And the
    • generations that are blocking us from being exactly as we please to be and should be to create most value. I can tell you all how amazing you are and then I mean; those of you that are actually going to be part of Young Cargill. That you are sitting on a goldmine of innovation potential. That the generation Y is the best thing that ever happened to Cargill. That you should start a revolution today, unleash all your creative powers and rethink your future. For I know you can do that. You can multitask, process uncountable streams of information at the same time, you are tech savy, have iPhones and the newest applications, you twitter and invent your own shoes on Nike.com. You care about the environment and about the future of your organization for you know that you are the generation that will need to save Cargill from its fatal destiny; you can still change the course of things and make Cargill a truly CO2 neutral, tree- saving and people friendly organization. For that is what you care about. You are the employee 2.0! You are Generation Y asking; why do we do things the way they are being done right now? Why can’t we be a faster, trendier and more responsive organization? But also, why I am not being petted on my head more often. Being told that I’m doing great or that I need to do better? Why does nobody ask me what I want when it concerns my career? Why can’t I go abroad to the country of my choice on a fat expat salary and bring my girl- or boyfriend. And when I’m there, half a year of sabbatical would be nice. To do that trip around the world that you were dreaming about. Why does nobody listen to me? You sir. I think I lost you. You see this group of young people and think; this bunch of self-confident young inexperienced employees. A bit like grasshoppers. They come and go as they please. Don’t stick around. Get bored. And still want a lot when they are there. You’re thinking that they should be thankful that the company hired them. Giving them a chance to learn a true profession. And that takes time. You cannot rush these kinds of things. Young people nowadays want a new challenge every five minutes. The first couple of months they come running to your desk saying boss; I can handle more, give me more, what can I do? Shouldn’t we go into this. Can’t we be doing that? You don’t always have more work for them so you thank them and send
    • them back to do what they were already doing. And they drift off. Then suddenly, a few months later, they are less motivated. Going home early. Working from home now and then or not as chatty during lunch time as they used to be. And you think; see, that’s what you get from all that energy. Now you understand what is to have a 9 to 5 working life. You’ll realize that you cannot be changing everything all the time. So what’s happening with these people? Do they really lose their concentration and motivation so fast? Don’t they have the persistence to stick it out? To make something of it. Have some patience? And now this. Uniting in some kind of young Cargill network; what good can come of that. They might even want to talk to other networks of young professionals. Compare working climates and job tasks. For sure they’ll think that the grass is greener somewhere else and we’ll have to start all over with our talent management process. Guys, what’s happening here? Why is this going wrong?? Well. That’s a very good question. And one that I can answer, but to which the solution is less simple. First, let me get the facts straight. For what I’m telling you here might not sound good to any of you. Even though it’s actually a natural process and in the end the best thing that could happen to Cargill, or any organization for that sake. All you managers out there that think; what’s happening! Why do I not understand these people? Just stop worrying. And think about yourself when you just entered the labor force. You were different too. For we are all unique! Every generation that enters a company is unique; and over time it will have a very distinct impact on the organization. It will help the organization evolve. Generation X, the one before my own, entered the workforce in the 80s, when employment rates were low. Since then, they have always been looking to develop themselves, learn more, new skills and competences, to be optimally employable. They feel more commitment to the job they do than to the company they work for. They do not care much for authority. But understand that authority is part of the job. They adapt to the extent they need to adapt in order to do their job well. Babyboomers, the ones that build up our and other countries after the second world war were the healthiest, and wealthiest generation to that time, and amongst the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve with time. They were idealists. But did not have a very long term agenda. In your organization they are the ones currently in power. Gregory Page is one of them. As a generation they long for money, status and power. They believe striving for
    • money equals more wealth. Not only for themselves, but also for others. Except for a few of them out there they do not see that this has been true in the past decades but is no sustainable measure for development in the future. And then you; the employee 2.0 or Generation Y. Gathered here today with some expectations. You are a funny group; hard to understand for most managers for all of you seem to be different. But in order to get some understanding about you I want to ask you a couple of questions. There is no right or wrong answer. And since I am Dutch I can be a little bit direct. • Do you like it here at Cargill? • How long are you planning on staying here and what does that depend on? • How many employers do you want to work for during a lifetime? • Did you know that there is a lot to do about you. That you make people wonder; they write books about you. Research you. Do you understand why? Well, then maybe I should share some insights about you. Researchers such as a professor that I work with, have found out that your brain works differently. You are wired differently. Among others that makes you better able to multitask and parallel process. You also prefer thinking in images and associations rather than in plain text. Ever realized that you always put in much more images in powerpoint presentations than your superiors would do? Do you have difficulties reading lengthy reports? It is all in your brains. Don’t worry. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We aren’t here to judge. There are other things that make you hard to grasp to many. And explain that many call you spoiled. You want different things from life. You want a flexible and favorable work-life balance. Your friends, your sport and family are truly important to you. You are ambitious, but work is just one of the things that makes your clock tick. You have different expectations from work. You want constant feedback. You want to develop yourself by being challenged. You know
    • you can do it and otherwise you’ll learn how to do it. With computers you could also always figure it out, so you’ll do the same at work. You are pretty self-confident. Nothing wrong with your attitude so to say. What else? ..You want to customize; from your Adidas or Nike shoes to your job description. You find it hard to understand that not everything can be customized according to your liking. Holiday trips. Pension schemes. The way you talk to your bank and the way you want to talk to your government. You want it to be on your terms. And why not. Technology is ready for mass-customization. Why not make everybody 100 % happy instead of only a few. .. You want to scrutinize; know exactly how and why. There comes the generation Y again. You see straight through when your boss is holding something back. That eats you up in side. You live for the truth and demand transparency. Are you being fooled. Treated as a kid; you’ll strike back. Whether it’s online on a restaurant review website where you share your frustrations about the lousy waiter or on YouTube where you massively support the honest performance of a woman such as Susan Boyle. ..You want fun. Why not have fun at work. You want to like your job. Life’s too short. Fun is necessary and useful. It was shown in a recent study that companies of whom the employees are likely to call each other friends perform much better. Hierarchy and power distances are passé. You want to tap your boss on the back and joke around with him when he does not understand the newest iPhone application he downloaded. The loyal and supportive you will help him understand it quite soon, but having a good laugh about it makes you happy. Corporate politics and ways of working, might seem like a fun game to you in the beginning, but when your career moves start depending on it, this kind of game is hardly appreciated any longer. You get frustrated and demand transparency. Otherwise you’ll start your own company, just like 70 % of American high school kids are thinking about these days. That’s just more fun. ..Last but not least; you are a networker and a collaborator. You share knowledge, give rather than take all the time and know that you cannot do it all by yourself. You share on Wikipedia. And take from Wikipedia. You know your limitations. How could you know it all? Knowledge creation is going so incredibly fast! By the time you finished your studies half of what you were taught was already outdated. Imagine a company with a workforce like that! Engaged and committed to tap into all resources available. Eager to learn. Happy and fun to work with. Honest about what they have their doubts about and not afraid to suggest the necessary changes. It’s a generation that is not afraid to make mistakes and wants to get tapped on the
    • fingers in a friendly way. That’s how they learn. Furthermore, they are believers. If you present them with a vision of where your company wants to go and they fall for that, they will want to help you reach those goals. Organizations can be their religion, their sense of community. How helpful is that! That brings me back to what I started with, namely, that every new generation in an organization is a good thing. You are needed so that the company evolves; so that Cargill can start to respond more effectively to the challenges that large multinationals are facing in this global world in which our planet is in desperate need for a new and sustainable balance. You are the ones that have the creativity and the energy to break rules. To create new systems and business models. And that you sometimes get tired; of the realization that you might not have a pension waiting for you when you grow old. That climate change is on the news every other day and that you do not know have to solve that, even though you know we’ll have to. That the ageing society amounts to enormous pressure on our health system which you will have to pay the price for. That’s okay. You can and should have fun too. Life’s short and there’s only so much within your circle of influence. Especially if you’re on your own. But wait.. look around you. There’s somebody just like you sitting in front of you. Next to you. Behind you. There are 60 of you here in Amsterdam… and I think what happened today is that you formed some kind of small club together. Now let me tell you a secret. You aren’t the only one who is uniting. Other Young Professionals do the same in their companies. Your bosses do the same in the more important meetings for which you need some stars and stripes on your blouse to be able to participate. Everybody is uniting in some kind of group. So it’s you against them. Let the battle begin! Right. Think again. You are not the kind of generation that wants to battle. You are all collaborators. Networkers. And you like your boss. He is human too. He can’t help being born in different times. And besides, imagine you’d have to change this place without him.. So that brings me to the three things I really want to say to you today. The rest of what I said, you can forget. I won’t mind. I am not easily offended. But listen to these last three points. They’ll help you and the rest of you out there do what you should be doing to save our country and the world. Ready? Here they come. 1. Every day again, realize that it is good to see things differently; you are different; the world is changing and so should your company!
    • 2. Now if you want to make a difference, don’t stop by signaling what you see is old and needs refurbishment; think in solutions and be pragmatic. Help those older folks out there to see the light. They need to be inspired too. 3. Use your power. You are a networker; you can multitask, you can parallel process, and are not afraid to make mistakes. You are tech savy and have a thing with images. Use that. Convince your superiors. Unite forces and create this movement for change when you think that is needed. And last but not least; use your sense of humor. You’ll need it and it’ll definitely make things easier. Nobody will be able to refuse you anything. The good thing is that no other generations before has ever been so self-confident so it will not be your lack of nerves that will stop you. So that’s it. My recipe for success and revolution. Now go and be like Bencom founder Ben Woldring or Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. You have the potential. Now just be yourself and be happy. Thank you for your attention. Martine Verweij, Squarewise