Finding the time to think is never as easy as it should be: the demands of a transactional practice leave little opportunity to step back and consider where a difference can and should be made. An email yesterday, which somewhat unusually I did not straight away consign to junk mail (the usual destination for unsolicited communication), took me to the Pennington Hennessy Blog and a short post on Generation Y, and from there to an excellent article in the FT (which had prompted the post), A to Z of Generation Y attitudes.
I have posted on this topic before, Graduate divas – don’t you love them (triggered by a Jordan Furlong post in Law 21), and it is, as some of my partners know, a particular hobby horse I ride. But that doesn’t make it any less important. What I found interesting in Alison Maitland’s FT article, is this,
Yet two studies into the attitudes of those Generation Ys that are in the workplace suggest that Carrie, Alex and their young professional peers are not as different from other generations as supposed – and not just because the recession has upset their expectations.
While craving excitement and challenge, nearly 90 per cent of Generation Ys describe themselves as loyal to their employer, according to the study Bookend Generations , published this week by the US-based Center for Work-Life Policy. In addition, nearly half of this tech-savvy and “connected” generation prefers face-to-face communication at work to e-mails, texts or phone calls.
But what sets them apart from us (and I am unashamedly a Boomer) is
the unprecedented pace of technological change, which shapes how they expect to work and why they resist boundaries; and the disappearance of the job for life.
Our challenge is how to engage with them.
Why am I not surprised at Catrin Griffith’s leader in The Lawyer, Why the law’s no safe haven.
. . . for a generation that has been raised on tales of riches, it will take a while for reality to sink in. Indeed, plenty of graduate recruitment heads are privately frustrated at Generation Y, which has been used to having everything on a plate, and hope the credit crunch could be the making of its members.
But perhaps the real reason why “opportunities for those entering the profession now look rather more limited” is less about the credit crunch (though that undoubtedly is a factor) and rather more about what the future of legal services in the UK may be. It comes back to Stephen Mayson’s warning, “too many qualified lawyers, too many law firms” (see my earlier post, The C word, but which one?).
. . . and as for generation Y lawyers, see Jordan Furlong’s post in Law 21 back in May, How to work with Boomer lawyers.
If you have read my blog before, you will not be surprised that I don’t agree with Penelope Trunk’s views on BlackBerries, found through another excellent post on Law 21, Core competence: 6 new skills now required of lawyers, but her post Stop blaming your Blackberry for your lack of self-discipline is still worth reading, if only because it promotes the myth of the multi-talented, multi-tasking Generation Y-er
If you want to see a whole generation make great choices about their priorities using the Blackberry, then latch onto Generation Y. They have been managing multiple steams of conversation simultaneously for more than a decade, so they are aces at it. And they are fiends for productivity tips. The most popular blogs are productivity blogs, and David Allen is a rock star in this demographic. So young people are constantly using prioritizing tools to make their information and ideas flow more smoothly for both work and life, back and forth, totally braided.
Blackberries are tools for the well-prioritized. If you feel like you’re being ruled by your Blackberry, you probably are. And the only way to free yourself from those shackles is to start prioritizing so that you know at any given moment what is the most important thing to do. Sometimes it will be the Blackberry, and sometimes it won’t. And the first step to doing this shift properly is recognizing that you can be on and off the Blackberry all day as a sign of empowerment.
Penelope is obviously one of those people who takes her BlackBerry to bed (you will have to read the full post to know why) but she is right about prioritising, and time management is one of those 6 new skills now required of lawyers (although I am not so certain that this is really a new skill: it is perhaps more that the pressure of modern practice means it is even more important).
As for the other 5 new skills required, I will come back to these soon.
At a dinner last month, the host (Chairman of a Business Angels Network) and I realised that we were probably the oldest two in a room of 50. It is not that we are that old (mid-50s), but that in the work we do clients and colleagues are getting younger. Law 21, one of my law blog feeds, had a series of interesting posts some weeks ago on the issues both of employing Generation Y and having Generation Y as clients.
Law 21 is Canadian law blog, but the problems either side of the Atlantic are the same, and there is little difference in the way we approach the issues (or, as is often the case, don’t), and it is certainly not just technology but culture as well.
I thought of this again the day before yesterday. The day started at Twofour Communications in Plymouth, at an event both celebrating their 20 years in business and targeted at the South West professional community, to whom they would like to sell more services. What was most noticeable was that almost without exception the guests were a generation older than the hosts (which led me to ask whether they had in fact asked the right people). At the end of the day Caroline and I were at The Northcott Theatre in Exeter, for a concert by Tasmin Little and John Lenehan, as part of the Exeter Summer Festival. Here we were among the younger members of the audience. The contrast between my day’s start and finish could not have been clearer, or more illustrative of the the different worlds in which we now live and work.
Generational issues are much in my mind as a lawyer, and not just the prospect of employing Graduate Divas. Nicholas Carr’s closing to his latest book, The Big Switch, is relevant both to lawyers, and also to Twofour,
All technical change is generational change. The full power and consequence of a new technology are unleashed only when those who have grown up with it become adults and begin to push their parents to the margins. As the older generations die, they take with them their knowledge of what was lost when the new technology arrived, and only the sense of what was gained remains. It is in this way that progress covers its tracks, perpetually refreshing the illusion that where we are is where we were meant to be.
Life was ever thus.
At a dinner earlier in the week, the host (Chairman of a Business Angels Network) and I realised that we were probably the oldest two in a room of 50. It is not that we are that old (mid-50s) but that in the work we do clients and colleagues are getting younger. Law 21, one of the blogs I regularly read, has had a series of interesting posts in the past few days on the issues both of employing Generation Y and having Generation Y as clients. Law 21 is Canadian law blog, but the problems either side of the Atlantic are the same, and there is little difference in the way we approach the issues (or, as is often the case, don’t), and it is certainly not just technology but culture as well. Graduate Divas as lawyers.