Open Thread Wednesday

The Harvard Business Review recently ran a provocative blog post called “Boomers, Stop Yelling at Gen Y to Get Off Your Lawn.” In it, Grant McCracken—not a Millennial himself—posits that older employers and colleagues have been misreading their younger colleagues, who conceive of themselves differently:

The young are different than you and me. They have more selves. According to a recent European study, in fact, Millennials have a “multifaceted sense of their own identity.”

“They change completely their attitude during the day, during the night, during the weekend,” says Alessandro Bigi, one of the coauthors of the study. “It is not like my generation, where I have my professor work and then I go home and have my professor life.” Millennials evidence what Larissa Faw calls “multi-careerism,” holding several jobs at once. She calls them “hustlers” working “angles” in search of their “best bet.”

This multiplicity comes from economic necessity. Having several selves make it easier to make a living. But multiplicity is also driven by creativity. Several selves make you more expressive, give you more opportunities to participate in contemporary culture. For pragmatic reasons or playful ones, Millennials have been adding on.

This comes as news to Boomers, who are inclined to take Millennials at their face. When they show up for work in a business suit, we assume we’re looking at the whole person. But many Millennials are faking it.

So here’s a few questions:

  • Is this an accurate assessment of how Boomers and Millennials (not to mention Gen X) act in the workplace? And if so, how can a leader, manager, workplace, or worker help foster inter-generational understanding and collegiality across these sorts of barriers?
  • Have you seen this work badly? Have you seen it work well?
  • Is one of these ways of working and conducting organizational life more conducive to human flourishing?
  • Is one of them closer to reflecting a Christian concept of the person?

Leave your comments below!