Generation Y in the Workplace

Amazingly, this is the hottest topic in business today. I receive emails everyday asking, “How do I work with Generation Y?” How do you provide leadership and motivation to this new entrant into the workforce? The Millenials, the other moniker for Gen Y, were born between 1977 and 1994 and there are some 70 million in this 14 to 31 age group…roughly 20 percent of the U.S. Population.

Some ideas:

1. Tear up historical job descriptions. I mean really — people aren’t doing what’s written in them, so there is a gap between reality and the written word. Gen Y wants the reality of the job, not some over stated litany of words that is outdated.

2. Become a facilitator and mentor. Dump your role as an authority. It does not work with Gen Y. Remember their “helicopter” parents hovered and became friends and companions to them. They expect the same of you.

3. Generation Y is tech savvy, nimble and enthusiastic, but they need structure. Spell out what the outcome needs to be and give them flexible direction.

4. Remember that they take criticism personally. The old “sandwich” approach doesn’t work (tell them something good, then the criticism, then end with something good). In today’s environment remember the “Serial position effect” – people remember the beginning and end.

5. If a Generation Y is doing the same work as another person, they expect the same pay. If you don’t give it to them, they will find a company that does.

6. They have little loyalty because the escape route is easy. They can always move back with mom and dad. There is real controversy on this perspective!

7. They bring self importance (not arrogance) to the job. There expectation is this: Give me a challenge and leadership and training to do it.

8. Communicate in short bursts. Think of things as little components. If you haven’t visited Twitter, you need to to understand this point.

Email me for the Generational Differences Spread Sheet. I think we need all the help we can get!

What have you learned about dealing with the different generations in the workplace. If you post a comment, I will send you a free download on Listening Skills!!!

Cheers, Marsha

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  1. Noel Posus says:

    Hi Marsha:

    Thanks for this and really excellent points.

    I know that HR professionals often hesitate to categorise this generational group to much, but that said, they do agree that these are the trends thus far.

    My biggest tip to people working with (including coaching with) Gen Y individuals is to ask them directly about whether or not they feel any of these trends relate to them personally, and/or if there are other traits.

    The key point here is that Gen Y’s want to be individually communicated with, asked and then they expect that whatever you offer to them will be followed-through with.

    Therefore for us, accountability and personal responsibility is raised, just like how we as them to accept greater personal accountability and responsibility.

    Working with Gen Y’s often means that both us and them need to step up.

    Great stuf as always Marsha and thank you for your continued sharing.

    (Sydney, Australia)

  2. Beverly says:

    Hey Marsha,

    I love that we have this younger generation shaking up the status quo of corporate and small business America. We have a lot to learn from them and they have alot to learn from us. It’s a matter of both Us and THEM adapting enough so we can hear what we have to say. It’s a matter of giving up being ‘right’ in our communication and aiming toward being ‘effective’.

    I am a real believer in the amazing ability, brilliance, and entrepreneurial spirit of both our corporate and small business brain trust. With the irritation of this generation maybe we will scrap off our barnacles!

  3. Liz says:

    It would be great if at some point, business leaders would TRULY be willing to take the time and effort to help themselves and their corporations by making the adjustments necessary to reap the advantages the Y Gen brings to the work place…

    There is much to gain from collaboration between generations. The previous generations provide experience, the Y Gen comes equipped with the tech savvy, energy and fresh ideas. Together we can take the skills that the Y Gen provide and fuse these as tools to propel the business practices that have been successful – but that soon will loose their effectiveness if they don’t keep up with the new pace and dynamics of these times.

    The challenge, with all due respect, is teaching “old dogs new tricks”. My experience in the work place has been one where the older generations want to reap all the advantages without providing any adjustments that make it a “win – win” situation. As Y Gen we are willing to give much, but need flexibility.

    Just to provide an example:
    My former boss would love the edge we could provide him by being versed in several computer programs that allowed us to produce results and materials for presentations with high quality in innovative ways. Our team was willing to stay working up to 6 to 8 hours of overtime in the same day, but on the other hand, he and the other partners could not conceive the thought of adjusting the old rules of the work place to the new situations. Thus, if the next day we were even 2 minutes late, all the effort of the previous night was obscured – we had broken the Lombardi rules…

  4. Amy says:

    As a hard-working, independent, synergistically-oriented Gen-Xer, I wish that the work force had kowtowed to my needs this way.

  5. Chris says:

    I agree with a lot of the points that you made. Where I come from our young people today are followers that are anticipating the time to become leaders. They need that extra reassurenace that someone is going to help them show their true potential. They need that challenge to bring that out, but a challenge that is going to being out their creativity. And many young people do not know that they are capable of more then what set them selves at.

  6. Alex says:

    i would like to ask for a free download of Listening Skills even though I have been a counselor for a number of years.I would like to keep on improving my listening skills so I can make a difference in the lives of our students. Thank you very much for your generosity and efforts in sharing all your resources,talent, & expertise. More power to you!

  7. Marsha says:

    Hi Alex – you can get the free download – and thanks for asking! Marsha

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