A few months ago, a friend related a story to me about one of his employees while shaking his head in disbelief. My friend works in management at a local engineering firm and had recently hired a young man fresh out of college – he didn’t have much experience, but my friend felt he had real potential.
That potential quickly faded when the new employee marched into my friend’s office and demanded a raise after only two weeks! He said the job was harder than he’d expected, and he felt he had proven himself – so he not only deserved a raise, but more paid vacation time as well! The look of utter shock and amazement on my friend’s face as he related this conversation isn’t one I’ll soon forget. He asked me, “Who does this kid think he is?” The answer is he’s a member of what is known as “Generation Y” and there are many more just like him entering the workforce!
Just who are these “Generation Y” people? They were born between the late 1970′s and late 1990′s and there are over 70 million of them in the U.S. alone. Highly educated as well as racially and ethnically diverse, they were pampered and nurtured by their parents, and were constantly stimulated with activities since they were toddlers. They tend to be perceived as being spoiled, self-centered, high maintenance and having a short attention span. How’s that for a winning combination?
On the other hand, they have the ability to multi-task and accomplish more, better and faster. So if you want a job well done, give them the direction and the training to do it – that’s the key. They crave knowledge and love challenges – especially if it will get them further up the corporate ladder. The other key to success with this group is coaching. Providing feedback on things they are doing well in addition to things that need improvement will provide them both recognition for their accomplishments as well as the challenge to improve.
Their parents taught them that they can accomplish whatever they set out to do, and in many cases, they were rewarded for participating in life’s normal activities (think caps and gowns for graduating pre-school), while also being protected from experiencing failure. As a result, they display a strong sense of entitlement. While this is shocking to many, it’s important to recognize that this generation views work simply as a means to enjoy life. In other words, there is more to life than work. WHAT??? But this viewpoint shouldn’t be confused with laziness or a poor work ethic. While it’s true they tend to shy away from the normal 8-5 schedule, the reality is that they are some of the most dedicated workers ever and they bring with them motivation, fresh ideas and enthusiasm. By offering them flexible schedules for social and personal time, a casual dress environment and recognition for good work, you will help keep this generation motivated, dedicated and productive.
“Generation Y” can also be perceived as having a lack of respect for authority. The main reason is they were raised to question everything they don’t understand and now they want the same kind of relationship with their employers that they had with their parents – they want to have the permission to question – to understand the “why”. Managers tend to interpret this as a lack of respect for their authority and not a search for deeper understanding. But as an employer, it is important not to view their questioning as insubordination, but to understand that they are continually thinking and learning. They are always looking for new and better ways of doing things, and everything that they learn gives them information that may lead to a new process that could make the employer’s life and work easier!
Obviously, this generation is very different than others in the past. They have specific needs, that if not met, will make for a poor relationship between employer and employee. Understanding, accepting, and being sensitive to the needs of the Generation Y staff member is the key to success in managing them. With this insight, you will be able to build strong relationships that will allow your company to reap the benefits of their knowledge, skills, ideas and enthusiasm.
My friend told his young employee that it was a bit too early to be asking for a raise and offered some other suggestions instead. He started by giving him some specific goals to accomplish in order to move up within the organization, and he gave him the training and tools to achieve them. The good news is he is still there and doing great! He will probably even get that raise he wanted at his next review. The vacation time is still under negotiation…
Keep your PRO StatusSign up to get the latest news and updates from PhonePRO and keep your PRO status....
Click here to signup now >>