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(posted: April 2nd, 2010)
Without a doubt, Generation Y is the workforce that requires the greatest amount of effort to manage when compared to any other in history. They want feedback NOW, they want training NOW, they want recognition NOW, and they want to create the lifestyle they desire NOW.
As demanding as it seems, there is a bright side to this high energy. If managers can learn how to harness their energy and coach them effectively, these young employees have the potential to be the highest producing generation ever. Below are some guiding principles that KLR Consulting research has found to work with Gen Y.
This generation has grown up with structure and supervision, with parents who were role models. The "You be the parent" TV commercials are right on. Millennials are looking for leaders with honesty and integrity. It's not that they don't want to be leaders themselves; they'd just like some great role models first. Though leading by example and working in the trenches with them, you will earn their respect, loyalty and might even have some fun along the way.
Don't wait for performance evaluations to tell them what they're doing wrong or right. Do it daily. Tell them how to improve today. Avoid harping on the negative and accentuate the positive and most importantly, get them back on track immediately. Let them know when they have done a good job. Tie rewards and incentives to one thing and one thing only: performance.
And make sure to deliver them in close proximity to the event.
Then, create formal and informal mentoring partnerships where there can be constant exchange of knowledge, experience, and skills. They can teach the older pros about the latest technology and the older folks can share their historical memory, skills, knowledge and wisdom
"If your top management isn't spending at least a half day a month sitting down with someone twenty-five years old or younger, then they are blowing it"
Gen Ys have high expectations of themselves. They want to be challenged and make meaningful contributions right away. They want opportunities to use the knowledge, skills and talents they have to solve problems, to innovate and to lead. A recent Randstad employee survey found that "trying new things" was the most popular item. They're looking for growth, development and a career path.
Gen Yers are poised to be lifelong learners. For managers this means making training and development an organizational obsession.
Gen Yers will get bored and start updating their resumes if they stop learning.
Employers who embrace a fun, rather than traditional or conventional, company culture create a higher rate of job satisfaction with younger employees. What does fun mean? To Gen Y, it means converting the break room to a game room with video games and foosball. It means periodically bringing in a massage therapist for chair massages, an ice cream cart for sundaes, or a rolling barista for onsite lattes. It means setting up "work vacations" where a team gets to work on a project from a vacation house by the beach.
Relax the dress code while you're at it.
Offering a variable work schedule, flexible hours or working from home goes a long way toward attracting and retaining Gen Y talent. Flex time lets employees avoid rush hour traffic, attend a child's event, or go surfing. Many Yers feel flex time and telecommuting make their lives better.
Gen Y is highly proficient with e-mail, SMS messaging, Skype video calling, blogs, forums and virtual online workrooms, they don't see a need to be physically present in the same office to collaborate, solve problems or produce products.
If someone wants to take a two-hour break in the afternoon to go workout or take a nap, don't drill them about where they were. If they want to finish their work from home at midnight, who cares as long as the work gets done. Employers who recognize and adapt to Gen Y's needs will retain them longer and get more productive work from them.
While Gen Y is high-maintenance, the effort may just create the highest-producing generation in history.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this!