Having just commemorated Youth Day last Sunday (16th June) I thought it would be pertinent to have a look at how we can celebrate South Africa’s youth. After all, this year marked the 37th anniversary of when young South African’s took to the streets in protest of being taught in Afrikaans. This extraordinary event, known as The Soweto Riots; and has gone down in our history books as one of the most memorable moments that put South Africa’s troubles under apartheid on the map. This proves that there is a long-standing tradition of strength and conviction amongst young South Africans.
On an almost daily basis I am scrutinizing the role of South Africa’s youth in the new world of work. Either because I am talking about how to manage multi-generational workplaces, or because I am focusing in on how to teach (or lecture) or strategically manage Generation Y in order to get the best out of them. I conduct the pre-program training for successful mentorship programs across various different industries; and I work with young people in the non-profit and education space through mentoring.
I hear the same things often about Generation Y: that they are different; and my response is always: don’t make assumptions about them!
One of the most interesting thing about our youth today is that they have so much in common with one another and yet there is so much diversity within this generation. The biggest factors in causing their inter-generational difference are a) education b) access to technology and c) socio-economic circumstances.
In lots of ways they are the most contradictory generation, because they have a veneer of self-assuredness and yet they are desperate to belong. But I want to celebrate what is good about young people today:
- their curiosity
- their flexible and adaptable attitude
- their belief that things are possible to solve and make better
- their resilience
- their ability to cope with exponential change
- their opinions
- their tolerance of diversity and difference
- their innate creativity and imagination
- their idealism
- their ability to be expressive
- their willingness to learn (as long as they understand why)
- their ability to connect with others
- their confidence
- their fresh and youthful perspective
There are so many other good things to say about them, these are just a few. How often do you see these qualities in your young employees? These are qualities we want to harness, not squash. What are you doing to bring this characteristics out in your employees?
What is your impression of Generation Y? Please send me your thoughts to: [email protected]