Gen Y’s Are Getting a Bad Rap
By now you have all read about the negative things that everyone has to say about Gen Y’s i.e. they are the generation of entitlement, they have no loyalty to their employees, they need more flexibility in their work hours etc. The list goes on and on. I feel that the time has come for someone to stand up in defense of this generation and offer a different viewpoint.
First of all, let’s define what Gen Y is. The dates that are thrown around that define who falls into Gen Y vary. For purposes of this article I define Gen Y’s as those individuals born 1980-1995. I had the distinct pleasure and honor in my previous role to develop a rotational program which consisted of individuals who fell into this age group. My experience with them was quite different than what these reports were touting. Every generation has their own nuance, and Gen Y’s are not different. However, if we learn to meet them where they are at with some minor changes in our own management style the rewards can be extraordinary.
So what do we need to do differently to get there?
1. Provide structure. This is incredibly important for them. They need to know what the plan is up front. So provide more structure than you normally would right out of the gate with them.
2. Spend the time on the front end. If you devote more time with them on the front end answering their questions and being available to them, they will go further and faster than you could possibly imagine.
3. Make them feel they belong. Inclusion is very important to them. Go out of your way to get them indoctrinated into your organization.
4. Socializing matters. Part of making them feel included is taking them out to lunch or having them attend happy hours and introducing them to other individuals outside of their circle.
5. The need to contribute very quickly. They want to know that what they are doing has purpose and matters. Don’t be afraid to offer them assignments that will stretch them.
6. Be there to support them along the way. They have to know that you are invested in them as individuals and sincerely care about their future. That means regular one on one communication is a must.
7. Offer options. They need to know that there are many different paths that they can take within your organization. Be clear about what the potential is for them if you want them to stay long term.
8. Ask them for help. Because they love to contribute ask them for their opinions and expertise.
9. Recognize them. Saying thank you and the small niceties mean a lot to these individuals. Take the time to let them know that you appreciate what they are doing.
10. Don’t assume they know. Because they are part of the technology generation we assume they know more sometimes than they do. Not all of them are savvy with Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint etc. Ask them where their skill level is at in these areas.
What I found is by following these simple steps these individuals are a joy to have on your staff. Counter to what you may have heard the vast majority are extremely committed, work hard and truly want to do an excellent job. Invest in them and you won’t be sorry.