This is obviously an exaggeration, but in all reality the differences between "how" we communicate and socialize has changed more rapidly creating a large divide between the generations. Where emailing and cellular phones were considered a huge progression in communication and socializing, with the drawbacks and strengths being you were always connected or accessible. Gen Y actually takes that one step further and embraces the accessibility publicly through twitter, and facebook, linking with their social and professional networks and always being public with everyone that is interested. Creating a whole new medium for commerce as well as socializing and developing one's values and ideals.
Its confusing to most Gen Y'ers how the simple handshaking, eye contact, and presentation of their outfits can and could matter to their effectiveness in most organizations. They tack on more to their personal styles and opinions - searching for humor, purpose, and belonging to a niche vs following the main stream. They multi task to the point of spreading their focus on so many areas simultaneously that it usually hinders their ability to connect and influence; searching for instant gratification in socializing, and use frequent informal methods of communicating. They lean towards questioning the purpose for tasks to understand the bigger picture and have a need to know "what" they're doing falls in line with their opinions and values. Direction taking is not as necessary or culturally accepted unless they know what it is they're doing and why and that also includes the fact that they are more confident in questioning authority.
Its hard to decipher how to reach, build rapport and ultimately to lead this new generation but to understand the weaknesses as well as the strengths will directly aid into creating actionable tactics on leading Gen Y.
I've covered some traits of a stereotypical Gen Y'er and some of the negative points but to further bullet point it from a manager's point of view. . . . :
Unable to function without questioning
Unwilling to bend personal values even in the face of organizational values or changes
Alleviated fear of risk creates unsound judgements and actions
Optimizing for efficiency
Ability to understand the bigger picture
Alleviated fear of risk creates novel and new ways of thinking and growth
Savvy in social events and bigger picture thinking
Willing to give back to a cause or have a cause & purpose
Please feel free to comment and let me know if there is anything that you think I can add to the list.