Thursday, July 23, 2009

I’ll Tell You What I Want

Over at Marketing Magazine, Zac Martin wrote an open letter to potential employers outlining the kind of things Gen Y look for in employment. Zac is his usual abrupt self and so I thought it would be fun to play devils advocate and write a “I’ll tell you what I want” open letter to Gen Y from the point of view of an employer. Make sure you read Zac’s article before reading on …

Look, I am a bit old school but I think I kinda get this social networking stuff. It looks like great fun. However, you Gen Y are always carrying on about how you need it for work and collaboration. Deep down I don’t doubt it. Only problem is I never see any actual evidence of this. I am starting to think it is just an excuse to stop me from banning it at work. In fact, every time I walk pass your desk it looks like you are “poking” some girl or looking at photos from the weekend.

Here is why I kinda think the whole “I need it for work” argument is all bullshit. You see, over at Marketingmag you say “Chances are I’ll need Facebook and Twitter to work” but then over at Matt Granfield’s blog you left  a comment that says “For the most part, my Facebook is just my friends, people I’ve met a number of times and have an ongoing relationship.”

Seems a bit contradictory to me. You can bet your next pay cheque that the mobile phone I provide for you and pay the bill for isn’t because “chances are you’ll need it for work but for the most part it is just for your friends”. Why should Facebook be any different?

Gorilla Wasn’t happy about those pics I saw of you. Just because you did that stupid stuff on the weekend and now it has ended up on Facebook doesn't matter that it happened in personal time. Our clients, and potential clients, don't care that it happened on Sat night at your local pub. All they see is a drunken idiot dressed up in girls clothes with vomit all over them. It’s cool to a certain extent because most of our clients have a good sense of humour and believe me, we have all done stupid stuff in the past. In fact, I remember a great night that involved a gorilla suit, a dancer, a beer keg and some fireworks. But seriously, we didn’t have this internet stuff back then so nobody knew what we got up to (I had to dig this photo out and scan it in!). Now everyone has a bloody camera on their mobile and sticks the pics up on Facebook or MySpace.

I realise it is all about trust but you see there is an old saying “once bitten, twice shy”. Your generation always says we should trust you but just a couple of months ago a couple of Gen Yers, that I trusted, used a whole month of our download limit in just one week when they used work PCs to play World of Warcraft. Then we all had to work slower cause the internet speed was rooted. That’s just not fair and very disrespectful.

Now listen close. You see this business? I worked my friggin arse off to build this. I am talking me working more hours than you have even spent being alive. My marriage suffered and I didn't spend as much time with my kids as I probably should have. I am pretty sure one of them actually hates me. I even used to have a full head of hair and weigh 35kgs less. You’’ understand that this company is my life’s work and I take it very seriously.

I've learnt a lot along the way and I don’t want to blow my own trumpet too much but I recon I could teach you a thing or two. Now, these are not things that you have already learnt at uni nor something you can learn of the internet. These are things that you can only learn on the job. The thing is, you haven’t been gainfully employed full-time for all that long so I recon you should stop telling me what you want for 5 minutes and pay attention to me.

It is things like how to get access to power in an organisation. “What?” I hear you say. Access to power, you know, the person that can actually sign the cheques and has the power to buy. We don't want to get caught talking to someone who is just going to gather info to tell their boss and act like a gatekeeper. So please don’t book us in to just go and speak to anyone who rings up asking about our services. Instead, I will teach you how to ask questions the right way so that they say "Oh, maybe you should meet with my boss because I can't answer that”.

It is also things like what we can and can’t do for our clients. You know that big government client we have? Well we can’t treat them the same as the private company clients we have. They have rules they have to adhere to. We can't just take them out on a boozey lunch and pick up the bill because they are not allowed to accept stuff like that because it may open them up to being biased in buying our services. Not a good look for them when they are spending tax payers money. Instead we have to respect the position they are in or we may end up not doing any more business with them.

At the end of the day we are a team, and I truly believe that. I hired you because you have some great skills, drive and a lot of potential. But you are not God’s gift to my company. I need you to realise that in the cold hard light of day it is my family home that the bank will re-poses if this business goes under so you'll forgive me if I might get a little jittery if I think you spend half your time on Facebook and Twitter instead of working.

Now get back to your desk and get on with what I pay you for ;)


Fiona of Toorak said...

You should use those Gen Y'ers to teach you how to spell.

Marek said...

As a Gen Y marketer - both in age and in accounts I work on - I couldn't agree more with Daniel and less with Zac.

Two things my dad has told me which I try to keep in mind is:
- Prove yourself and you'll earn respect
- Work hard and be responsible

Maybe its his communist-era upbringing which shaped the way he approaches work (and now an example I try to follow) but it is one that not many of my super smart friends have.

Work ethic and reasonable expectations are seriously lacking among my peers.

Zac Martin said...

Good response Oyster, big ups for continuing the conversation.

I think to fully appreciate what I said, you have to ignore the stereotype of us Gen Y not working hard, not being responsible and completely unwilling to respect anyone.

Anyone who knows me would say I work bloody hard and the only reason I'm anything certainly isn't because of hand outs. I would also be the first one to say most of what I learn is gonna come from people like you Oyster, which I am more than happy to listen and absorb if given the chance.

Once you put aside those issues (most of what Marek said), I don't think the "demands" are unreasonable. It's not just Gen Y that leverages themselves, and bargains for what they want, particularly when they're actually valuable.

There is value in Facebook beyond wasting time. Networking is a massive part of that. But so is building a comfortable culture I can work in. Likewise there is value in you paying my mobile bill, even if it's not 100% used for work related purposes.

With that said, I don't expect these demands for nothing. You get someone willing to learn, work hard and apply their knowledge and skill and maybe even teach you a thing or two in the process.

And again, this isn't just me. And if you want to attract the best graduates, maybe it's worth listening to what they want. You never know, you might not have to even pay my mobile bill (not too important to me) if you give me a little trust.

Daniel Oyston said...

@Zac, I understand … I know you work hard and are light years ahead of most people your age … completely agree about your work ethic and involvement

I suppose I saw the opportunity for a debate by some “stereo types’ and played up to that. I saw the opportunity for a bit of fun!

The problem with generations and them being stereotyped is that the employer is always taking a punt on whether you will work out or not (that’s not “you” as in Zac but just anyone … regardless of which Generation they are). There is always that risk.

Sure they build in 3 months probation periods but the reality is while they can get rid of you, or you can leave, easily, it is still very much a risk.

I know there is value is all the tools … I was just playing the grumpy old man (which some think comes a bit too easily anyway).

Absolutely the oldies can learn stuff from you. Make no mistake, any boss with half a brain knows that they do not know everything. A lot of the time the good ones will make sure they employ people who have skills that they don’t. So we are happy to learn of you youngins!

@Fiona … spelling mistake? Where? Can’t be as bad a the Freudian slip in my previous post that read “Two all beer patties …”

Kate Kendall said...

Lovely debate... not much to add but:

It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
if you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
(Son-- Away Away Away, I know I have to
Make this decision alone - no)
All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them They know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.
(Father-- Stay Stay Stay, Why must you go and
make this decision alone?)

dave said...

Love your work. Keep it up!

James Duthie said...

Love your work Oyst, and not coz I'm a Gen Y basher. Indeed, I'm borderline Gen Y myself. I just firmly believe in the principles Marek already affirmed. Rights and respect in the workplace need to be earned. You don't get them because you've got a blog (as good a head start as it is). There's a whole new set of skills required for the work place.

If a graduate approaches me with specific demands I'll kindly see them to the door and employ someone minus the ego. Heck... there's a whole generation of self proclaimed social experts to choose from (of which you could call me one).

lucio ribeiro said...

Hi Daniel,
Domnt really think if I agree 100% with you. I still believe that some sort of freedom is the best control (please dont take out of the context).
I believe that Facebooks' etc can be use in a different levels, and yes can be reactively research and actively used as personal alter-ego.
My point is more likely not discuss the intention but behaviour.
The reality is this generation can be savy on internet and everything else, but they still dont have the experience to apply it all. The arrogance cockiness and ego is far more limiting and damaging than its own talent and benefits (which i have no doutbs they have) Results - Negative ROI.
Time spent in office managing politics is time lost.
Should agree with James Duthie, I'd show the door,and get.
Having said that, I like you Daniel, like Zac, dont like James Duthie. I think he should go back to Online Marketing Banter.

Nathan Bush said...

Nice one Oyster. But really, there are people that will always abuse boss' trust - whether this be extended smoke breaks, sleeps on the toilet, irrelevant phone convos or Facebook poking. Social tools are just one more way out of 100's of existing ways to abuse trust. I don't think it's a 'Gen Y' thing.

lucio ribeiro said...

Hey, I'm really good friends with James - This was a joke between us - hijacking Daniel's blog.

Daniel Oyston said...

@ Dave, thanks for the encouragement
@ Lucio – ha ha ha I wasn’t sure and even sent a quick email to James to ask “what’s the deal”. He replied with something about you a having a drinking problem :)
@Nathan – I completely agree. I remember when I was 18 and working in a nightclub and we were getting paid triple time to work NYE. I remember how proud I was to go to the toilet for 10 minutes where I figured out I just got paid $10 or something to go to the toilet! There will always be some that will abuse the trust but certainly the Gen Yers believe that they are entitled to make demands nonetheless (well Zac is anyway :)

tamir said...

Nice thread here everyone. I think it's not about GenY or employers but more about what tools you need to do your job. In Zac's case there is no way he can do his job without unlimited access to facebook/twitter. This is probably true for most online strategists/marketing people. But if you're a genYer and your job is to make phone calls - That's a different issue.

Matt Granfield said...

I can't believe I missed this post when it first came out, oops!

My two cents: If GenY have 5 spare minutes at work they'll spend it on Facebook (or leaving comments on Oyster's blog, like I'm doing now, because I'm GenY). If GenX have 5 spare minutes they'll be reading the news or puffing a ciggie out the back. I'm sure Baby Boomers have something they do in their spare five minuteses too.

I employ 15 people and you know what? They all have a spare 5 minutes at work every now and then and somehow shit still seems to get done, so I don't really care if they skyve off. The ones that skyve off all the time tend to fall off the wagon, the ones that work harder get paid more. It all seems to work out in the end.

Zac will get a proper job one day. He'll either work hard and move up the marketing chain (I remember he used to want to work at Leo Burnett), or take too much for granted and get jaded and find a new passion. I wish him the best of luck either way.