Getting the best from your ‘Gen Ys’

Who are Gen Y?

They’re the group of people under 30 years old, many of them leaving higher education and entering the workplace today. Much of what is written is unhelpful, describing them as disenfranchised, antisocial and lacking interpersonal skills.

Research shows that the different attitudes, beliefs and expectations between younger (Gen Y) employees and their managers is causing a serious disconnect – detrimental to performance, engagement and the retention of graduates.

Are the Gen Y’s so very different to us?

Yes, and no.
They’ve grown up in a different environment with different attitudes and needs. Generally, they’re highly educated, fiercely ambitious and motivated by money, status and career advancement.

But at the end of the day they’re individuals and should be treated as such.

So, what do they want?

Mostly reward, rapid career progression, recognition, freedom to work the way they want and good work life balance.

They want early promotion (over half believe they should be in a management role within three years of starting work), to be acknowledged and rewarded for their contributions and to be coached rather than dictated to.

They don’t expect to stay in the same job for long – over half expect to leave their employer within two years. So, organisations face a huge challenge retaining them and developing Gen Ys into the managers and leaders of the future.

What can be done?

Help Managers:

  • Better understanding between managers and graduates of each other’s aspirations and expectation of work via ‘generational sensitization’ training.
  • Organisation should review if the ‘old ways’ of doing things and current company values are still relevant – Gen Ys value integrity very highly.
  • Gen Ys don’t respond well to a ‘command and control’ style of management but need to be provided with a degree of freedom and autonomy. Managers need to adopt a coaching style which may be challenging for some and require training and support, not least in confidence building.
  • Managers may need help managing the relationship. Some Gen Ys expect their managers to be their friends and this can be awkward or interpreted as a lack of respect by some.
  • With the increasing pressure of managing less experienced and less competent teams, Managers need more support and information to control their stress levels and maintain a healthy work life balance. Developing the skills of emotional intelligence is vital.

Helping Gen Ys:

  • Although Gen Ys possess incredible creativity, technical skills, drive and energy they lack other essential skills such as time management, self-awareness, self-management and team working.
  • Training in these ‘soft skills’ together with emotional intelligence development will help Gen Ys fit into the work place and develop the wisdom they so lack.
  • Similar to managers, Gen Ys need help in understanding and accommodating the differences they encounter and a reality check about what they can expect from work.

The world of work is changing rapidly and in order to benefit from the positive passion and the energy of this generation we need to embrace and adapt to these changes or risk losing our young talent.

About the author:

Hazel McCallum helps managers and their teams to perform under pressure and develop the skills they need for the workplace of the future.

Advances in technology, an increasingly younger workforce and increasing competition posed by globalisation means that competencies need to be ‘future proofed’ if Managers and their teams are to survive and thrive.

Hazel’s interactive workshops use emotional intelligence skills to increase performance and interpersonal skills so that organisations can attract and retain the best talent and maintain a competitive edge.