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Managing the New Generation

By Carolin R Munro
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  1. Free Chapter
    Generation Y – Who Are They?
About this book
Publication date:
October 2014
Publisher
Packt
Pages
224
ISBN
9781783000883

 

Chapter 1. Generation Y – Who Are They?

With hurricane-shattering force that broad-sided us unexpectedly, Generation Y (Gen Y), has descended on our workplaces. A new generation of workers—born between 1981 and 2000—is in our midst, and they are triggering the most radical workforce changes with their distinctive attitudes, behaviors, needs, and expectations. With their arrival, the organizational landscape will never be the same again.

This first chapter sets the context for the book by providing a portrait of Gen Y, so we have a common understanding of who they are before we launch into strategies. In this chapter, we will:

  • Unpack the attributes of Gen Y

  • Examine what Gen Y needs and expects from us in the workplace

  • Shatter myths about Gen Y that can derail our working relationships with them

Before proceeding, there is a caveat to be mindful of. The description of Gen Y that is offered is not intended to label the entire generation with one sweeping brush stroke. In reality, not every member of Gen Y falls exactly within the parameters of the portrait—some less so than others. The purpose of the description is to familiarize you with the over-arching characteristics of Gen Y that emerged from research; specifically, how they experience and perceive the world and the events that influenced and shaped their values, expectations, and behaviors.

 

So, what's burning?


In the preface, I mentioned that one of the goals of this book is to address burning questions you may have about Gen Y. So, what's burning?

As I stood in a packed theatre in Chicago, Illinois, a few years ago delivering a presentation about Gen Y, a senior executive from a multinational food company stood up and, with laser-precision, asked a question that likely was on the minds of many attendees and on your mind, as well: "Why should we bother spending time on Gen Y?". It is one of the most crucial questions I've been asked—why should any of us invest time knowing about Gen Y and cracking the code for working effectively with them?

Quite simply, we can't afford not to. We owe it to ourselves, as organizational leaders, and to our businesses. If we choose not to acknowledge and explore ways to work with Gen Y, we risk losing out on the skills, gifts, and talents that they bring to our workplace. Much of this is sought-after expertise that can give our organizations a competitive advantage in an uncertain and unpredictable global economy. Gen Y brings the following elements to the table:

  • Technological savvy (they are the most digitally wired and proficient generation in history)

  • Industry knowledge attained from their post-secondary studies

  • A new lens through which they view the world

With their distinct perspective on the world, Gen Y has the ability to awaken us to the realities of our workplace; that is, our practices, procedures, policies, and norms that we take for granted and may no longer serve us well in the new economy. They can shed light on how we can enhance our approach to business and, in doing so, better position us to meet the needs of our customers and clients—those savvy consumers who can freely take their business elsewhere if they aren't satisfied. Gen Y's perspective on consumer needs is especially advantageous if our customers and clients are Gen Ys themselves. If we are receptive, Gen Y can introduce us to a myriad of untapped possibilities that can transform the way we think about and lead our organizations, and can take us from being "in the pack" to "leading the pack" in our approach to business.

As well, how we attract and engage, not only with Gen Y, but with all of our employees, are the pillars upon which our reputation as industry leaders is built and sustained. At a time when we face a global labor force shortage, we are well advised to create and nurture workplaces that are characterized as respectful and collaborative in order to attract the shrinking pool of skilled employees that are available to us. If we don't figure out ways to work more effectively with Gen Y, and with all of our employees, we risk losing our best employees to our completion. How do you want to be recognized as a leader and what is the legacy you want to leave behind?

 

Unpacking the attributes of Gen Y


"I'll Google it and get back to you…."

"What do you mean there isn't an app for that?"

"You want me to do… what?….fax it? Do fax machines still exist?"

You likely have heard the preceding statements. They represent some of the ways Gen Y perceives and experiences the world. Let's spend time exploring the distinct attributes of this generation. As we proceed, please be mindful of the caveat presented earlier. The following descriptions are general insights that have been gleaned about the generation, as a whole, and by no means do they reflect the characteristics of every member of the Gen Y community. Also, the intent of offering the descriptions is not to label Gen Y, but to get us started in better understanding the newest generation in our workplace.

Note

Make a note

Beside each characteristic that is listed below and throughout this chapter, you'll find references that you can consult if you'd like more information. The complete list of references appears in the Google it… section at the end of this chapter.

Overall, Gen Y is characterized as:

  • The most ethnically diverse generation in history (Eisner, 2005)

  • The most savvy technocrats (Howe and Strauss, 2000)

  • The generation that is vehemently opposed to micromanagement (Martin, 2005)

  • The cohort that places a higher price tag on empowerment, challenging work, and excitement than any other generation (Martin, 2005)

  • The highest performing and most ambitious of the generations (Gilburg, 2008)

Gen Y was raised under the adoring eyes of parents, who encouraged them to have a crystal clear vision of their future and to pursue their goals with vigor and dogged determination. Parents of Gen Y are referred to as "helicopter parents" because of their strong presence in virtually all aspects of their children's lives, especially decision making, problem solving, and career planning (Howe and Strauss, 2000). Because Gen Y was under the umbrella of parental support and encouragement more than any other generation, they bring an infectious positive attitude, unwavering confidence, and high self-esteem to their careers. They are eager to take initiative and stretch into assignments and roles that appear to be outside their competency, because they believe they can accomplish anything they envision. Yet, at the same time, growing up in an environment where—for the most part—they received glowing feedback, Gen Y finds it difficult to accept negative feedback. We may even see a more vulnerable side of Gen Y, which can show up as insecurity and a fear of failure (Howe and Strauss, 2000).

Gen Y's have fewer siblings; hence, they had fewer experiences dealing with rivalry and competition at home (Strutton et al., 2011). They are referred to as "trophy kids"; those who rarely lost anything and are on the receiving end of everything, including recognition and rewards for effort as well as achievement (Alsop, 2008).

Gen Y has grown up thriving on the frenzied speed of technology, and this is mirrored in everything they do, including their relationships. Their multi-tasking, highly-stimulated world revolves around instant messaging, managing conversations in several chat rooms simultaneously, downloading, buying and selling online, blogging to get real-time reactions from their cyber network, engaging in wiki collaborations, searching Google for information—which is their primary source of information— and thriving on the instant gratification that comes with gaming and watching fast-paced videos and movies. The high-speed of their lives and the comfort with which they manage multiple tasks and relationships have left them with little patience for linear thinking, lengthy step-by-step instructions, analysis before action, and face-to-face meetings that follow a tightly scripted agenda.

Gen Y's core values include connectedness, collaboration, free expression, respect, creativity, work-life balance, and flexibility to move freely through life changing directions (Pew, 2010). Relationships are a high priority for Gen Y; hence, they gravitate toward online and face-to-face activities that promote interaction and collaboration (Howe and Strauss, 2000).

 

Exploring Gen Y's needs and expectations


More than any other generation in history, Gen Y is coming into the workforce with more advanced academic credentials, greater technological competency than their supervisors and coworkers, higher expectations that their skills and talents will be rewarded, and higher expectations that others will accommodate their workplace needs and expectations.

Can you live up to Gen Y's expectations?

From you, as their supervisor, Gen Y expects support and clear instructions on projects, yet they want autonomy to chart their own path and pace to achieve their goals (Yeaton, 2007). In your communication with them, they favor messages that are delivered with charisma and humor (Morton, 2002). They also expect regular and speedy feedback on their performance (Berkowitz and Schewe, 2011), which should take the form of objective methods of assessment and explicit guidelines on how to meet and exceed workplace expectations (Lowery, 2004). Gen Y wants to know immediately what they are doing right and wrong. However, they may be unprepared to handle negative feedback as they have been told often by parents that they are truly amazing in almost everything they do.

Since whirl wind speed is a way of life for Gen Y, they expect equally high speed performance from us (Junco and Mastrodicasa, 2007). Gen Y is perturbed by promises to "get back to them" with responses to their questions and concerns, and they are even more displeased by promises of distant pay raises and promotions (Lancaster and Stillman, 2002). They come into the workplace with expectations for fast-track promotions, raises, perks, and flexible work arrangements (Zemke, 2001).

Having been privy to the intense media scrutiny of corporate scandal and downsizing, Gen Y has become mistrustful and apathetic toward corporate cultures, traditional hierarchies, and authority (Martin and Tulgan, 2002). They question lines of authority, workplace protocol, and etiquette (Erickson et al., 2009). They do not conform readily to standards, and they confidently challenge the status quo, often expecting those in senior roles to explain why workplace practices make good business sense (Morton, 2002). Hence, they have earned the title of the "why" generation (Lyon et al., 2005).

Can your organization live up to Gen Y's expectations?

Gen Y is attracted to careers that enable them to make contributions to the community, especially pertaining to environmental sustainability, and they value time away from work to pursue volunteer interests (Hewlett et al., 2009). Regardless of their chosen profession, the need for fun, excitement, and autonomy in the workplace are stronger in Gen Y than in previous generations and are regarded as workplace requirements (Lamm and Meek, 2009).

When they first join your organization, Gen Y is on heightened alert looking for evidence of alignment between their personal expectations and organizational realities. Gen Y does not spend much time contemplating how they will fit into an organization; rather, they spend their time hunting for answers to how an organization will be compatible with their lives (Espinoza et al., 2010), especially their commitment to work-life balance. They are able to size up an organization within the first three weeks, and if there is dissonance between personal and organizational expectations, they likely won't stay past six months. Gen Y's definition of long-term commitment is one year (Martin, 2005), and it is predicted that by age 38, Gen Y will have had 14 different jobs (Twenge et al., 2010). Even when there is high unemployment, Gen Y will exercise the right to leave, usually when frustrated with lack of, or denied, promotional opportunities (Beeson, 2009). This confidence, even during tough economic times, is the result of having a boundary-less view of their career and an awareness of their sought-after technological expertise (Zemke et al., 2000). Security is valued, but is defined as career security whereby they build a portfolio of transferable skills permitting them to change jobs freely (Twenge et al., 2010).

Gen Y is considered the most exigent generation for us to attract, as they prefer self-employment to working for others (Lipkin and Perrymore, 2009). With Gen Y declared as "the most entrepreneurial generation in history", we are confronted with the added weight of convincing them that working for a corporation has greater appeal than self-employment (Martin, 2005).

On the positive side of a ship that appears to be sinking, one in five Gen Ys anticipates tenure with the same company for six years or longer (Hastings, 2008). This is our lifeline, knowing there are Gen Ys considering long term employment in our organizations where they can hone their skills and advance their careers. Our challenge—and it is within our capacity to address—is to create work environments that are even more alluring than they currently are; hence, inspiring more Gen Ys to join us, to work at full capacity for us, to engage actively with us, and to stay with us.

Throughout this book, we'll explore the changes we can make in our organizations in order to create such a workplace, and, at the same time, position our organization to meet its overall objectives. Specifically, we'll explore:

  • Job enrichment approaches for the current line-up of jobs in our organization

  • Revisions to our human resources policies, practices, and procedures with Gen Y's input

  • New ways to engage with Gen Y that inspire them to be even greater contributors to our organization

 

Shattering myths about Gen Y


While traveling across North America and meeting hundreds of Gen Ys as part of my research, I was struck by Gen Y's deep-seated concern about the myths that others subscribe to about their generation. These assumptions cause Gen Y a considerable amount of angst; they feel both misunderstood and misinterpreted. As well, these myths are highly destructive. They have the potential to erode working relationships even before they begin, and they can sabotage opportunities to build high performing and productive work teams.

If our goal is to establish ourselves as leaders in our respective industries, that is, people want to work for us, customers and clients seek our services, and other companies pursue us as partners, then it is incumbent upon us to build a strong and stable workforce that is the pulse of success and viability. Specifically, this entails creating a climate of inclusion, respect, and compassion. As we reach toward this outcome, we can't afford to have misperceptions and misunderstandings about the newest generation in our workforce permeating the bloodstream of our organization and interfering with our efforts to develop strong work teams that ultimately position our organizations as industry leaders.

Presented in the following sections are five common myths that hover in the workplace about Gen Y, followed by responses to each. It's time to shatter our glass assumptions.

Myth number 1 – Gen Y is entitled

Entitlement? Can we reframe this as confidence?

Gen Y hopes that we can put the term entitlement in abeyance and come to view them as confident. For Gen Y, this means we can launch working relationships on a much more positive note without the stigma attached to the concept of entitlement.

According to Gen Y, nothing punctures their eardrums and is more distressing than hearing that they are entitled. Where we see entitlement, Gen Y sees confidence; that is, self-assurance in their ability to declare who they are, what they stand for, and what they want in their personal and professional lives. They've been raised by their parents (that's us!) to have a compelling vision of their future and to persistently march toward their goals—slicing through anything that impedes their way. This confidence manifests itself in everything Gen Y does, including how they manage their careers. And we are on the receiving end of this tsunami of confidence! It shows up in our organizations as a "can do" attitude and sometimes as an overzealous game plan for career progression. To some degree, we might be a tad envious of the precision and persistence with which Gen Y communicates and pursues career goals. Their pathways and efforts are significantly more razor sharp in comparison to how many of us manage our careers.

Yet, at the same time, Gen Y is acutely aware that they face the same career struggles and daily setbacks as other generations: unemployment, difficulty securing their dream job, managing debt load, being sandwiched between raising children and caring for aging parents, and personal and professional disappointments that take a myriad of forms. Gen Y asks us to suspend the term entitlement, which divides the generations, so we can explore the similarities in our personal and professional lives that have the potential to unite us.

Myth number 2 – Gen Y has no work ethic

No work ethic? Can we reframe this as a different work ethic?

Many managers speak of the apparent lack of a strong work ethic in their young staff and dismiss this as laziness. While this may be true in some cases, the majority of Gen Y is willing to work hard and aspire to great things, but they also place high importance on work-life balance. The work-life balance piece is where we hit a pain point. While we might be driven to work long hours and push ourselves beyond our comfort zone in ways that take a toll on our health and our relationships, Gen Y is not willing to do this. They have witnessed the side effects of unrelenting workplace demands and pressures on our generation, such as heart attacks, burnout, separation from loved ones, and divorces, and they aren't prepared to be on the receiving end of these outcomes in order to get ahead in their careers. Instead, they are starting their careers with firm commitments to work-life balance, which often means plans with friends and family trump work.

They value working hard, but they are committed to working differently. This generation is the strongest advocate for telecommuting. Working from home allows them to make maximum use of their day; that is, they are free from office interruptions that interfere with task completion, they save time in commuting, they don't fall prey to water-cooler conversations, which are colossal time killers, and they have the flexibility to work when they are most productive, whether this is 2 p.m. or a.m.

When we comprehend the work ethics of our youngest employees, we are better equipped to set mutual expectations for success. Here lies an opportunity for us to explain tasks to be completed and deadlines to be honored, and allow Gen Y to chart the pace and path for delivering final products. In Chapter 8, Mentoring the Next Generation of Leaders – Legacy Building, One Gen Y at a Time, on performance management, we will discuss approaches you can use to manage daily performance in a way that respects the organizational mandate and Gen Y's approach to work.

Myth number 3 – Gen Y is disrespectful

Disrespectful? Respect is one of Gen Y's core values.

In reality, respect is a common thread joining all generations. The majority of us value respect, but each generation defines it differently.

While working in the hospitality sector on an initiative to enhance communication, I asked staff to provide examples of how respect should show up in the workplace. Senior employees replied that respect, for them, is evident in the following:

  • Arriving on time for meetings

  • Giving full attention to others when they are speaking by refraining from text messaging, gaming, and answering phone calls

  • Wearing proper business attire

  • Being in the office from 9 to 5

For the Gen Y contingent, none of these behaviors signaled respect. The following was on their list:

  • Keeping promises

  • Providing feedback

  • Asking for their input

  • The speed with which people respond to their requests, which is highest on their priority list

They added that respect is earned and not assumed; that is, Gen Y won't simply show respect to us because of our job title or role in the organization. Respect is earned predominantly by proving to Gen Y that we are willing to work alongside them, and that we wouldn't ask them to do a task that we, ourselves, would not be willing to do, no matter how unpleasant or difficult the task may be.

The preceding example is widespread in our organizations. We say that respect is valued, but we haven't taken the subsequent fundamental steps that are integral to creating a respectful workplace; hence, we remain frustrated, deflated, and irritated by the lack of respect around us. The important next step after declaring the importance of respect is to delve into what respect means to each of us and what we need from each other to create a respectful working relationship. This requires us to dig deep and do the heavy lifting that comes with identifying and agreeing on the specific and concrete behaviors that support working together respectfully. Once these behaviors are identified, we can then move toward demonstrating these behaviors in our daily interactions, and holding each other accountable to our new commitment.

Myth number 4 – Gen Y is self-centered

Self-centered? Gen Y actually has an altruistic streak running through their veins.

We need not look further than the resumes we receive from Gen Y applicants in response to job vacancies for evidence of this. Their resumes are brimming with references that support their belief in and advocacy for social causes, and their remarkably strong sense of civic duty, environmental accountability, and community mindedness. Their covering letters also follow suit, by conveying their interest to work for organizations that care about how they affect and contribute to society. A number of studies show that Gen Y is volunteering at record rates at work, and in their local and global communities. Added to this, Gen Y's volunteer commitments appear to have started much earlier in their careers when compared to other generations.

Even though Gen Y is crystal clear and steadfast in declaring what they want, who they are, what they stand for, and what they envision as their career trajectory—at the core—they devote a considerable amount of time to community initiatives that are in their own backyard and in the global village.

Myth number 5 – Gen Y wants to run before they can walk

Taking the express lane to the executive suite? An invitation for us to restart our engine.

I recall a story that a senior manager of a leading oil company in Alberta, Canada, shared with me: "We interviewed a Gen Y for an entry level position, but he appeared indifferent, except for his excitement asking me a number of questions about how he can get into my position and how long that would take! These young people today have no tolerance for entry level work. They all want to start their careers as managers."

Although Gen Y can create the impression that they are attempting to circumvent entry level work, Gen Y assures us this is not the case. They are aware that entry-level work is a stepping stone toward the dream job they aspire to have. However, Gen Y confesses that they can become disillusioned and disinterested in some of the entry-level tasks that we assign. Their disinterest stems from not having a clear understanding of how the work we have given them contributes to the organization. Specifically, they don't understand why they should work to their full potential when they perceive the tasks to be marginally significant to the organization.

To rectify this, a subtle change might be all that is needed. Along with communicating job instructions, goals, and expectations, perhaps we can spend time setting the context for Gen Y; that is, conveying the rationale behind what we expect them to do and underscoring the importance of their work to the organization. Even our most junior employees want to know how they can add value to the organization even if their work appears, on the surface, to be light years away from impacting the organization's strategic direction. A delicate change in the way we communicate the importance of their work can mean the difference between an employee who is slogging agonizingly though the day, and someone who is engaged, enthused, and working to their full potential.

Also consider giving Gen Y an opportunity to step outside the parameters of their entry-level accountabilities. This could take the form of inviting them to departmental meetings where they contribute to discussions and initiatives that would benefit from the input of younger workers. By encouraging their participation in new ways, Gen Y develops a richer understanding of the company's priorities, and they make vital connects between the company's mandate and their entry-level work.

Alongside their concerns about entry-level work, Gen Y questions the complexity of stepping stones in place to reach their career goals. Gen Y is eager to move their career expediently along. They want to complete the work assigned, master the skills required, and move ahead, without being told that they need to patiently wait for promotion. Perhaps this is a call for us to dust off and review our policies and procedures on talent management and succession planning. In consultation with Gen Y, we may find a way to fine-tune our career progression pathways to meet the needs of Gen Y and to fulfill our organizational mandate.

Shattered myths? So what now?

Have the glass assumptions been shattered?

You may not be ready to wholeheartedly embrace all of the responses to myths about Gen Y, but I encourage you to take the first step toward eliminating, or at least minimizing, myths about Gen Y that pervade our organizations. At the starting gate, there are three invitations waiting for you:

  • Recognize and confront your own assumptions, attitudes, and beliefs about Gen Y and how they manifest themselves in your interactions with young people

  • Look beyond your assumptions to see Gen Y's talents, gifts, and potential

  • Envision the working relationship you'd like to have with Gen Ys in your life; specifically, imagine what a new approach to supporting, mentoring, and collaborating with them might look like

In my years of being in the company of Gen Y as part of my research, teaching, and business practice, I've consistently found that Gen Y has enormous respect for other generations. The majority of Gen Ys want to be part of your team, they are keen to learn from your leadership, and they are eager to build strong working relationships with you and their colleagues.

As we progress through this book, each chapter will reveal a new set of tools and practices that bring you closer to the working relationship you envision with Gen Y. Leaders and organizations able to see beyond the falsely woven stories about Gen Y are en route to creating a climate of inclusion, respect, and compassion that is the heartbeat of prosperous and thriving organizations.

As mentioned in the Preface, space has been left at the end of each chapter for the voice of Gen Y to be heard. It only makes sense that Gen Y has an opportunity to weigh in on the issues that we'll be ruminating over as we reconfigure new pathways for working with them. At the end of each chapter, there is a section called Meeting the Gen Y community, in which a member of Gen Y shares a key message that is intended to further inform our thinking and approach to managing and working with the newest generation in the workplace.

In this chapter, we've been discussing the attributes of the Gen Y cohort, so we'll turn the narrative over to a member of the Gen Y community to discuss what he'd like us to know about Gen Y's workplace needs and expectations.

 

Meeting the Gen Y community


What would you like business leaders to know about your workplace needs and expectations?

–Ulusyar Tareen

Ulusyar reflected on his work experience over the years, specifically, the many different leadership styles he has witnessed. A key message for us, as organizational leaders, is to remember to be "leaders, not bosses". Ulusyar encourages us to focus on coaching Gen Y toward performance excellence by:

  • Communicating clear expectations, including the rationale behind the work that we expect them to complete

  • Showing them exactly what is expected on the job

  • Guiding them patiently as they strive to meet organizational expectations

  • Keeping the work environment easy going, but still strict on performance standards

  • Rewarding them for their achievements

According to Ulusyar, Gen Y does not respect or respond well to autocratic leadership, where the focus is on telling them what to do and controlling how the work gets done. This does not help Gen Y learn how to be their best and, as a result, pushes them away. Added to this, Ulusyar reminds us that team work is integral to our business operations, and therefore, we are advised to pay extra close attention to developing and sustaining teams. Time should be taken to train teams so they:

  • Respect and welcome each other's differences

  • Can bring their unique skills and backgrounds to the forefront

  • Realize the importance of contributing as equally as possible to the end product

Ulusyar also invites us to reflect on the number of years of work experience that we expect from job applicants. According to Ulusayar, Gen Y becomes increasingly frustrated when they read job advertisements for positions that they are interested in—and they know they can do—but they don't have the years of experience that we are looking for. A growing number of Gen Ys choose to pursue graduate degrees right after their undergraduate studies in order to better prepare themselves to compete for the jobs they want; hence, they don't enter the work world with extensive work experience to their credit. Ulusyar asks us to consider reducing the work experience requirements and to take into consideration all the part-time work, internships, volunteer commitments, and extra- curricular activities that Gen Y brings to the workplace. Housed within these experiences are the transferable skills that we likely are looking for to get the job done. In the words of Ulusyar, "Give us a chance. You won't regret it."

Note

Make a note

Ulusyar was born in Pakistan. He received his Bachelor's degree in Global Business from Coventry University, U.K., and he is currently working towards his Master's in Global Management at Royal Roads University in Canada. Ulusyar has 4 years of work experience in the banking sector. When he is not studying the global marketplace, Ulusyar enjoys reading books about psychology and human science.

 

Reframing challenges as opportunities


We haven't met, I don't know who you are, and we don't have any history together, but the split second you walk into the room, I've formed an impression—you are brimming with entitlement, overflowing with arrogance, saturated in confidence, bursting with self indulgence…

Freeze this scene. Does this sound vaguely familiar? Have you found yourself in a similar situation where you've made a snap judgment about the younger generation? Perhaps it was when Gen Y entered the room for a job interview, stood up to speak at a meeting, took the stage to deliver a presentation, or walked into the office and was introduced as your new boss? Or perhaps, the Gen Y in front of you is your new financial advisor, lawyer looking after your legal issues, instructor teaching the night school course you signed up for, or doctor who is about to perform surgery on you. You can't help yourself; a torrent of first impressions flood your mind and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else.

When you are caught in the moment, be aware of your actions and reactions. Now, reframe. Change the message. In the moment when you are being held hostage by these first impressions, consciously lift those thoughts from your mind and transport them out of awareness. Replace the language of judgment and evaluation with curiosity about the person in front of you. Instead of leading with assumptions about them, what can you ask this person that shows your interest in getting to know them, and perhaps dismantling some of your initial first impressions? Start with a few questions that can enhance your awareness and appreciation of the person in front of you. This is the first incremental step in reframing challenges as opportunities to connect on a deeper and more meaningful level with others.

 

Leaning in to change


Reflect on what you read in this chapter about the attributes of Gen Y, their workplace needs and expectations, and the myths associated with this generation. Identify one significant thing that surfaced for you. What did you learn? Describe what you plan to do differently in your interactions with Gen Y that reflects your shift in thinking.

Since Leaning in to change is featured at the end of each chapter, you may want to start a journal where you can record your thoughts and reactions as you read and respond to questions that are posed. This way, you can return to your notes at a later time to refresh your memory about the commitments you made to do things differently and to ascertain your progress in honoring new directions.

A chat room on my website (www.eyeofthetigerconsulting.ca) has been created for those of you who would like to discuss your workplace experiences, ask questions, and share resources. I'm looking forward to seeing you online.

 

Google it...


For those of you who would like to continue exploring the Gen Y world, please check out the following resources:

  • A video from 60 Minutes, the award-winning interviewers and broadcasters that showcased their research on Gen Y in the workplace: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owwM6FpWWoQ

  • Alsop, R., The Trophy Kids Grow Up, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, (2008)

  • Beeson, J., "Why you didn't get that promotion", Harvard Business Review, 87(6), 101 – 105, (2009).

  • Berkowitz, N. E., and Schewe, D, S, "Generational cohorts hold the key to understanding patients and health care providers: Coming-of-age experiences influence health care behaviors for a lifetime", Marketing Quarterly, 28, 190 – 204, (2011)

  • Eisner, S., "Managing generation Y", SAM Advanced Management Journal, (07497075), 70(4), 4 – 15 (2011)

  • Erikson, T., Alsop, R., Nicholson, P., and Miller, J., "GenY in the workforce", Harvard Business Review, 87(2), 43 – 49, (2009)

  • Espinoza, C, Ukleja, M., and Rusch, C., "The millennial generation: recruiting, retaining, and managing", Today's CPA, Sept/Oct., 24 – 27, (2006)

  • Gilburg, D., "They're gen y and you're not", CIO, 21(8), 40 – 43, (2008)

  • Hastings, R., "Millennials expect a lot from leaders", HR Magazine, 53(1), 30, (2008)

  • Hewlett, S., Sherbin, L., and Sumberg, K, "How gen y and boomers will reshape your agenda", Harvard Business Review, 87(7/8), 71 – 76, (2009)

  • Howe, N., and Strauss, W., "Millennials Rising: The Next Greatest Generation", New York: Vintage Books, (2000)

  • Junco, R. and Mastrodicasa, J., "Connecting to the Net Generation: What Higher Education Professionals Need to Know About Today's Students", Washington, DC: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), (2007)

  • Lamm, E. and Meeks, M.D, "Workplace fun: the moderating effects of generational differences", Employee Relations, 31(6), 613 – 631, (2009)

  • Lancaster, L.C and Stillman, D, "When Generations Collide: Who they are, Why they clash, and How to solve the generational puzzle at work", New York: Harper, (2002)

  • Lipkin, N. and Perrymore, A, "Y in the Workplace: Managing the "Me First" Generation", Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, (2009)

  • Lowery, J.W., "Student affairs for a new generation", In M.D. Commes and R. Debard (Eds), Serving the Millennial Generation: New Directions for Student Services, 106, 87 – 99, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, (2004)

  • Lyon, K., Legg, S., and Toulson, P, "Generational cohorts", International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, 5(1), 89 – 98, (2005)

  • Martin, C., "From high maintenance to high productivity: What managers need to know about GenY", Industrial and Commercial Training, 37(1) 39-44, (2005)

  • Martin, C. and Tulgan, B, Managing the Generation Mix, New York: HRD Press, (2002)

  • Morton, L.P., "Targeting Generation Y", Public Relations Quarterly, Summer, 47(2), 46 – 48, (2002)

  • Pew Research Center, Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, (2010)

  • Strutton, D., Taylor, G. D., and Thompson, K, "Investigating generational differences in e-WOM behaviors for advertising purposes, does X = Y?", International Journal of Advertising, 30(4), 559 – 586, (2011)

  • Twenge, J.M., Campbell, S.M., Hoffman, B.J., and Lance, C.E, "Generational differences in work values: leisure and extrinsic values increasing, social and intrinsic values decreasing", Journal of Management, 36(5), 1117 – 1142, (2010)

  • Yeaton, K., "Recruiting and managing the "why" generation: GenY", The CPA Journal, 78(4), 68 – 72, (2007)

  • Zemke, R., "Here come the millenials", Training, 38(7), 44 – 49, (2001)

  • Zemke, R., Raines, C., and Filipczak, B, "Generations at Work: Managing the clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in your workplace", Washington, DC: American Management Association, (2000)

 

Summary


In this chapter, we extinguished the flames of "what's burning", unpacked what the helicopter parents gave us, asked ourselves whether we can live with Gen Y's needs and expectations, and ended with shattering some glass. There is a great deal to ponder about the youngest generation that has arrived on our doorstep and that we have the privilege of working with.

Now that we have a better understanding of who Gen Y is, let's leap into how we can attract Gen Y talent to our organizations.

About the Author
  • Carolin R Munro

    Carolin Rekar Munro is the Associate Professor and Intellectual Lead for Leadership and Human Resources in the MBA and B.Com programs for the Faculty of Management at Royal Roads University in British Columbia. She is also an adjunct professor for Central Michigan University's Global Campus, teaching in the MA in Education. She received her Masters' and Doctoral degrees with a focus on developing human resources and leadership from the University of Toronto. She also has a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation from the Human Resources Professionals Association, a Certified Training and Development (CTDP) designation from the Canadian Society for Training and Development, and is certified in values-based leadership from the Barrett Centre, Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, and Emotional Quotient Inventory. Carolin manages a successful consulting practice, Eye of the Tiger Consulting(www.eyeofthetigerconsulting.ca), in which she collaborates with leaders on change management, employee engagement, organizational renewal, strategic planning, performance management, developing and sustaining high performing teams, succession management, and leadership development (for aspiring leaders, executives, and the youth community). Carolin has worked with clients in Canada, the U.S., South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe. She is also a national and international conference speaker. Since 2008, Carolin's research portfolio has focused on Generation Y. Specifically, she has been investigating the following three key issues: the leadership role and competency profile required by GenY as they move into leadership; the organizational initiatives that need to be in place to identify, develop, and retain GenY talent; and the anticipated changes as leadership roles are filled by GenY, and how these changes can be navigated to ensure a smooth transition in organizational functioning and staff relations. Carolin is currently embarking on a study of how organizations internationally are preparing GenY for leadership roles, the competency profile required of GenY to lead internationally, and the changes GenY plans to make in doing business globally. Her published work includes: the emerging organizational landscape with Generation Y at the helm; developing and sustaining high performance teams; Return on Investment (ROI) from training and development initiatives; leadership models to transition teams from dependence to interdependence; best practices in teaching and learning; wellness management of HR practitioners; transitioning to e-learning environments; bridging multi-generational differences; and the mentoring needs and expectations of Generation Y human resources practitioners. This is Carolin's second book, the first was Management of Human Resources, which is required reading for courses in Human Resources in many Canadian colleges and universities. In the community, Carolin is involved in a number of national and international initiatives. For Education Beyond Borders, she is Chair of the Advisory Board, member of the Strategic Partnership Committee, and member of the facilitation team, who recently returned from Tanzania as part of a leadership development and community education project. As well as this, Carolin serves on the Human Resources Association's Educational Standards Committee and on the National Steering Committee for the Canadian Society for Training and Development.

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Managing the New Generation
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