Generation Yes: How to Positively Work with Gen Y

by Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA

How to Positively Work with Gen YBusiness leaders today are often blindsided when a Gen Y worker up and leaves their employment. Often the Millennials, aka Gen Y (born 1980 – 1999 and 76 million strong), leave employers and the leadership of the company in a fog on how to hire, retain, and maximize their talents. With reducing turnover and maximizing success as a goal of every industry, Gen Y´s exit can create morale and productivity problems. For leaders, managers and supervisors, it means we may want to relook our perception, skills and actions because Millennials are looking for a ‘perfect’ boss.

It is important to remember these adults have been raised with close encounters of the parent kind and are often referred to by demographers as “The Tethered Generation.” Some have grown up with “helicopter parents” – those who “hovered” overhead and paid very close attention to their kids.

What does this mean to management in retaining this member of the group? Gen Y expects more than just an annual appraisal. Robert Half International completed a study and found that 35 percent of the 1000 Gen Y´s surveyed want to communicate with the boss several times a day. They received it from their parents, and they now want the same from their bosses and the leadership of the company.

Solution: Create feedback and communication using the same kind of scale developed for performance reviews. During a project assessment and team management meeting, tell the individual team members how they are doing as well as the team as a unit. Another thought is to let them evaluate each other and the group as a whole using the same kind of grading system.

The Millennials also want the perfect boss to be:

  1. Proficient in management skills – Keep the door open but set parameters and don’t become a doormat. For example, tell them to bring ideas and specific questions to help move more quickly toward a solution.
  2. Pleasant and easy to get along with – Remember they are a highly sociable generation and like being part of a group. Leave egos and arrogance at the door. Let them know you are eager to help them achieve balance between their work and personal obligations
  3. Understanding and caring – Give them “spot” reviews frequently, even before a project has completed. They expect way more communication than just an annual review.
  4. Flexible and open-minded – They think and brainstorm differently because they have access to a plethora of information via the Internet. Stay open to even the most radical thinking and ask questions and dig deep into what they are thinking. Good news? They bring new, vibrant ideas.
  5. Respectful of values and appreciate employees – Walk your talk at all times. Show appreciation by giving them feedback and learning how to appropriately delegate to them through polished leadership techniques.
  6. A good communicator – Give them honesty and stay away from “You coulda and you shoulda.” Verify that they do want straight talk and no fluff. Two thirds of them surveyed in the Robert Half Survey prefer in-person conversations and only one in five would rather communicate by e-mail.

Turnover is expensive and typically costs three times their salary. Take care to manage all generations well, especially Generation Y. They are the core of your growth and success. Caution: don’t ignore other segments of your group.  They also have high expectations and expect much of the same as the Millennials.

What ideas have worked for you?  Please share!

If you would like to receive the Generational Divide Summary Sheet, email me at

*Graphic is from Boston College: Center for Work and Family study – Lauren Rikleen

Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA
International Professional Speaker
Executive Coach, Author
Certified Myers Briggs Type Indicator Administrator

Please contact Marcia Snow, Business Manager to book Marsha for your next event.


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