Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Managing/Teaching Generation Ys

Teaching Generation Ys
Managers, Educators, Parents: You may find this note that I sent to my colleagues of some interest. I had sent this out under the Title: "Teaching Generation Y to make $75K".
Laptops in the classroom, text messaging during lectures, or better still Twitter; Linkedin to Facebook during HW time. Wow, they are multitasking. Aren’t they good!

Boy, we thought we had it rough: papers with grammatical errors or no punctuations; inability to follow instructions; not showing up for classes, etc.
You, on the other hand, memorized multiplication tables (16x12), large chunks of poetry (Kubla Khan, anyone? Coleridge, eh!) and the Periodic Table.
Now, it seems to be impossible to tell anyone today that they are not doing a good job without them quitting or leading to a loss of self-esteem. You on the other hand were told that you needed to pull up your socks—and you took such criticisms on the chin. All these complaints and more have been repeated at various faculty meetings and around the proverbial water cooler.
Boy, time to give some thought to those employers out there who have to deal with the new generation! Case in point: According to FORTUNE magazine, to be a UPS truck driver/delivery person, a job that pays on average $75,000 (yup! +benefits, they say) you have to memorize huge chunks of information and protocols. It used to take them 30 days to train someone. With the rise of the next generation the training now takes anywhere from 90 to 180 days!!! And they quit if they are told that they messed up.
Employers are now having to come up with entirely new strategies for training and retaining the new group of hires (including dealing with the rise of the helicopter parents – ask me about this another day). Examples abound…Since not everyone reads anymore; here is a link to a Video Blog by a Gen Y reporter that tells you the UPS story:
And, of course for the gentle reader, who wants detail, click on the link to go the Article:
There were a lot of responses to this initial note. I will try and post a few as I collate them.


  1. P.V. (Sundar) Balakrishnanwrote:
    Here is a comment sent by one of my colleagues:
    Thanks Sundar. This exact thing has been the topic of one of my classes. I’ve managed to work it in theoretically. I showed the class a 60 minutes piece on it that one of the students had found. The older students were shaking their head in disgust and annoyance while the younger ones were thinking “what’s wrong with that?” I of course showed the 60 minutes piece because it didn’t require reading...

    PS. I edited her name out.

  2. Here is a detailed comment by a very thoughtful science instructor.
    " Absolutely. We see the shift. There are some unknowns. I am hanging on to requiring them to document evidence with their own hand in science. Downloading from their neighbor is not an option. On the job, lab notebooks are legal documents and need to be signed off in their own hand. There is a different wiring in the brain that happens via the keyboard. We really don’t know all of the implications.

    I am a fan of hands on as pointed out in the UPS learning curve. The kinesthetic mode of learning is a fast way to hard wire information. All learning requires movement. Some is simply by movement in front of the eyes-words on a page.

    A question I have, not having read the more detailed article, is whether the comparison between the old drivers’ training time v. the genyers’ training time was truly a fair test. Was it the same job. Did the veterans acquire some if the current skills required over time as technology grew more complicated and the systems advanced. That’s a lot of packages to deliver, it sounded like the productivity of UPS per driver had also advanced.

    I am extremely glad to hear that it is the personal touch that polishes the new drivers! Yeah for the teacher in the classroom or lecture hall. We are not dinosaurs yet. Human to human rules! I do experience a large number of young teens who absolutely thrive on personal contact. My hypothesis is that they are not getting as much one-on-one genuine interaction with the adults at home, so they seek it at school. All of our lives are too busy today. Maybe the “problem” w/ genyers is that they need/needed more hands on adult interactions, separate from the work (school) place, so they have more genuine confidence and can sustain a critique without crumbling.

    Jill can attest to the issues around teaching second languages. We know the brain changes permanently by 16 and you can never get back the language acquisition mode that kids have, yet we are impeded in our efforts to get more foreign language taught at earlier grades. That is due to our bureaucracy, not kids. So the kids are different, but I am not so sure the adults are handling the situation effectively.

    My two cents,"
    Looks like we touched a universal nerve here!