Hello SOTGC community,
Generation Y, also known as the millennials, is the most misunderstood generation in today’s workforce. Our parents coined the term “helicopter parents” for coddling us as children, and our sense of entitlement is a product of our well-intentioned, yet overbearing parents. Too often we are associated with rebellion because we don’t blindly follow the rules. BUT … do we really feel entitled, or are we just positively challenging the status quo?
As a non-challenger of authority, I grew up happily oblivious to the rules that were always set in place for me. “Follow the rules and make do with what you’re given! It will keep you out of trouble!” That’s how it goes right? Well, luckily for me, I outgrew that pretty quickly. My job started to heavily revolve around quality and compliance; asking “Why?” would no longer hold a negative stereotype but, instead, foster thinking and creativity.
Every action should have a purpose. When asking “Why?” the response is sometimes: “That’s how we’ve always done it.” But to me, that isn’t a strong enough purpose and THAT is where I can make improvements. The first time I was tasked with implementing a major system, I was too intimidated to ask “Why?” After all, I was sitting in a meeting with high-level, intelligent, professionals who have spent years in the field. I figured they obviously knew what they were talking about and there was no need to offend anyone by questioning the status quo. But I just couldn’t let my proposal go and ended up going to one of the senior levels to throw my idea out on the table. “That’s a great idea! Why didn’t you say anything earlier?” she asked. After researching, we learned that the current system was only in place because that was how everyone was taught, and my asking “why don’t we do it this way?” would actually help us develop something much more efficient.
This “Why?” mentality started to mature my thinking and soon I was utilizing it in a positive way. I recalled working with my team to develop a new procedure for the division, and, as we started to lay down the bricks, I simply challenged the process with a tough scenario. I didn’t know the answer nor did I disagree with the process, I just wanted to challenge it. This resulted in the awareness of gaps and forced us to think creatively to improve the process even further.
Asking “Why?” can be a difficult feat when you are countered with “why fix what isn’t broken” or “it’s how we’ve always done it.” However, questioning the status quo can be a positive thing if you use it the right way. It should no longer be considered rebellion or entitlement; but, instead, thought of as an innovative characteristic.
If this message encourages you to develop a “Why?” mentality, share this post and follow @SOTGC and @FocusByALI on Twitter.