One of the largest generation gaps I find today is in the definition of effort and shortcuts. If those words do not have the same meaning for you and those with whom you work or work for, it can be the cause of misunderstanding and conflict, some more severe as you’ll soon discover as you read on.
Those Born Before Technology (BBT) often view Millennials’ use of technology as a short cut to the effort they once had to put in at the Library stacks. The belief that the “search” for information is a lost art and that technology has made it “too easy” for others to access information, making them “lazy” or not putting in as much “effort” is a common bias.
A very successful Boomer CEO recently sent an email to his staff recommending articles from a Business Magazine. The email did not include a link to the Magazines website, despite some nudging from his HR Manager to include it. The CEO believed strongly that the effort in finding the information is as important as the information itself.
This is where I think there is a distinct generational difference in the definition of “effort”. Today, it is so easy to access the information that putting the Magazine title into Google doesn’t really qualify as “effort” to those Born After Technology (BAT) or those who have integrated technology into their work practices. It’s actually just annoying that the link wasn’t included. Millennials and others who rely on technology see the effort needed to Google it themselves as a waste of time, and may even interpret it as the CEO’s lack of effort to do the work or understand it would be appreciated.
Perhaps the CEO’s own bias towards Millennials reliance on technology might have been at play. This CEO, and others in their position, may benefit more from recognizing that the effort that went into the “search” by former generations is now redirected in new and different ways by a newer generation.
On the other hand, having such ease to access has made some people lazy. Research has shown a decreased attention span in children, especially boys, who play video games for extended periods of time. Watch Philip Zimbardo’s presentation on time orientation to learn more.
While I still believe most people put in the effort and do the work, some students and young professionals are taking short-cuts to their own detriment. As an instructor, I continue to remind my students to not use work from others they find on the Internet, and yet each course, some one does. It’s as easy for me to find it online (if not easier) as it is for them. It’s just stupid to take these kinds of short cuts. So they get an F, not life shattering but, it can be a career killer.
The aforementioned CEO sent out an email to their staff recommending a book. A newer staff member sent out an email, including the CEO on the list, with the link to the “Cliff Notes” to the book. The CEO was so unimpressed with his lack of effort and passing such a practice of taking short cuts onto others that the employee was fired!
So be sure to know the difference between effort and shortcuts! More importantly, understand how those around (and above you) define effort, because it is by their definition that you are being measured and evaluated. Too commonly, people complain that they’re working hard and not being recognized for their efforts, which often leads to short cuts, and an unfulfilled career. So while you may have your own definitions, make the effort to ensure yours are aligned with others.