Provocative Propositions

In the hyperactive and challenging world in which we all live, it is becoming harder and harder for business leaders to find time to read, reflect and gain insight from the many valuable sources at our disposal.

In "Provocative Propositions", The Beacon Group attempts to fill that void by offering our opinion, often rather pointed, on a wide array of issues we believe are relevant to leading a modern organization.

The articles are catalogued into 12 categories so you can quickly and easily find a topic of particular interest. We then offer three easy steps under the heading "In Our Opinion" to help business leaders take action on the key themes.

Simply click on the category and read away.

The Next Generation of Employees
We may not all be "lucky" enough to live in Southern California but, surely, over the past few years, you have felt the ground shake beneath your feet. In fact, you had better look around; the tremors may have already caused cracks in the foundation on which your organization is built.

Let's face it - the shift is on.

New Rules but you didn't create them, "they" did.

New Attitudes but you didn't change them, "they" changed you.

New Technologies but you don't drive their invention, "they" drive you.

Who are "they" - they are the future!

They are Generation Y.

Y Change

Call them what you want.

Echo Boomers, The Nexus Generation, The "I" Generation. It doesn't matter.

What does matter is the fact that more and more of the workforce, over the next 10 years, is going to be populated by employees born between 1978 and 1994. Australian author Peter Sheahan calls them Generation Y in his book "Generation Y".

While they are certainly not the first generation to challenge the "old ways", the fact of the matter is, the speed, scope and scale of the change they represent is far greater than ever before and it is gaining traction more quickly and more dramatically.

Simply put, Generation Y will radically change work as we know it and it will certainly change the way we need to lead. Your organization has two choices; embrace the new ways, or lose out to those that do.

Ys Choice

Generation Y has been raised in a world of choice. Lots more choice and lots more freedom to choose. As explained by award winning New York Times author Thomas Friedman, the world is flat once again and Generation Y intends to take full advantage of it.

They will go where they want.

Do what they want.

Watch what they want.

Eat what they want.

The ability to choose is a major differentiating factor in the development of Generation Y individuals.

If they choose you - you're in luck.

If you're not trendy enough - tough luck.

The future of business is Generation Y; it's time to wise up.

Y Them

These individuals are the children of the MTV generation.

They have never known fewer than 100 channels.

They have grown up attached to computers and video games.

They don't understand the word "no".

They demand that everything be given to them on a silver platter right now.

Oh, and by the way, they will be working for you sooner rather than later.

Y Hire Them

In his book "Generation Y", Sheahan makes the case for your organization to bend over backwards to become the employer of choice for Generation Y.

His research has found that Generation Y employees are:
  • Street Smart
  • Aware
  • Lifestyle Centered
  • Independently Dependent
  • Informal
  • Tech Savvy
  • Stimulus Junkies
  • Sceptical
  • Impatient

His list of the critical determining characteristics of the Gen Y'ers may be the exact formula for success your organization is so desperately seeking at least in terms of its ability to change.

Generation Y seeks out change, they drive change, and they embrace change. They are multitaskers, they are creative, they embrace technology and they work well in groups.

Just what you need!

Y Now

The time is right because time matters and competition is fierce.

Trends and markets shift in a matter of moments. Technology has increased the pace of business to lightspeed. Your best bet may be to have a staff that shares that same one second attention span.

And Sometimes Y

Before you rush into your Generation Y recruiting campaign, take a step back. Although the benefits to this cohort of employees may seem outstanding, there is, indeed, a down side. In more traditional settings, Gen Y employees will have difficulty, based on their casual approach and non-existent attention span. As well, if your organization does not evolve to keep up with their "passing fancies", they will ultimately move on to the next career opportunity.

Y Me

Managing Gen Y employees will be an exercise in learning a whole new set of fundamentals. In "the past", managers led their teams by directing and controlling behaviour. Nowadays, managing Gen Y employees requires a high level of coaching, empowerment, ethical behaviour, flexibility, and accountability.

Learning these skills will help you guarantee the success of your Gen Y employees.

In Our Opinion
The Beacon Group's Keys to Becoming Y Friendly

Be Loud To Gen Y employees, computers come with speakers for a reason. They love to be over stimulated. Having a quiet environment may not work as well as you think. Loud colours, music, and laughter work better.

Get Networked The only hierarchy that Gen Y recognizes is the leader board on the company pinball machine. Gen Y realizes that everyone can contribute in unique ways. Anyone pulling rank will be marginalized by Gen Y employees.

Stay Relevant Starbucks hires coffee-lovers. Your organization must do the same, namely hire employees that relate personally to what your organization offers. No sense hiring a runner to sell bikes.

Have Fun 9 to 5 work hours are a thing of the past and, luckily, Gen Y employees realize this fact. They will work 24 - 7 if the environment is upbeat and fun. Cater lunch, get a foos-ball table, stop for happy-hour, and watch productivity soar.

Our Monthly Rant
Not Your Grandfather's Oldsmobile

Quick, name the youngest CEO you can think of.

How about the funkiest CFO or the coolest COO.

As we all know, companies often seem to struggle when it comes to creating the future. They get comfortable. They get stuck in a rut. They do not know where to go. They don't know how to get there.

Maybe that's because they simply won't take the leap of faith that is needed to fast track the star junior executive, you know the 27 year old in Finance; the 25 year old in Marketing; the 26 year old in HR.

The historical mindset?

They don't have the experience.

They haven't paid their dues.

Oh ya, just like:

Michael Dell of Dell Computers (started at age 21)

Steve Jobs of Apple (started at age 21)

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry's fame (started at age 27)

Nick Swinmurn founder of, the $300 million online shoe store (started the company in 1999 at age 26).

So, perhaps, if you're looking to get your organization on the path to greatness, you need to make some different choices.

Y wait?
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