Managing net generation workers

Clay Shirky in McKinsey Quarterly on managing Gen Y

A famous observation about the net generation, the millennials, is, “They’re doing Facebook at their desks on a Tuesday morning,” which is certainly true. One of the reasons for that is that they’re also being asked to use PowerPoint in their homes on a Saturday afternoon. If you went to any manager and said, “Would you offer your 25-year-olds the following bargain: no more Facebook at work, and in return for which, I won’t call you after 6 PM or on weekends or ask you to watch e-mail.” I don’t think the managers would make that deal.

If I’m a 25-year-old and I’m sitting at my desk thinking, “I’ve been doing this job for two years, it’s time to look around for something else. I wonder what’s next for me,” it would be easier for me to find a better job in a different city, working for a different company, than to go into my own company and say, “Where’s a new job for me? How do I get a promotion?


Clay is the author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age and was featured in the post Does the Internet Make Us Smarter or Dumber?