A Few Tips for Managing the Gen Y Employee
“Generation Y” usually refers to young Americans born between about 1980 and 1999. While their predecessors from generation X were marked by cultural leaning toward irony, skeptical optimism, and the first emergence of a uniquely late-20th-century work ethic, gen Y has defined its own set of values in response to those of its slightly older forerunners. Any reference to a “generation” has to be kept very loose of course, but there are certain qualities that members of gen Y sometimes bring to the office and certain management techniques that these young people sometimes respond to better than others.
First, members of gen Y are focused on achievement, but also on teamwork. They thrive in an atmosphere where everyone feels equally respected and included. They have been raised to see respect for diversity as a positive goal, and they’re often happy to make compromises in the interest of general fairness.
Second, members of gen Y are still very young, and they respond to honest, well-earned leadership built on a foundation of integrity. They often grew up in an atmosphere of close supervision and active support, so they may benefit from a long period of guidance before being left alone with challenging or complex responsibilities.
Third, members of generation Y strive to be flexible, and they respect flexibility from their managers. They are growing up with an appreciation for the challenges of maintaining work-life balance, and rigidity and absolutism will not impress them. They are not interested in giving up relationships and activities for their jobs, but they will respect managers who understand the need for balance. Like all young people, they appreciate a fun and interactive work environment, and respond well to variety. If you let them mix play with work, they tend to work very hard and can show a surprising willingness to rise to difficult challenges. In particular, they seem to enjoy new learning opportunities and exposure to new information.
Bring out the best in your gen Y employees by fostering an environment of good-natured guidance, enthusiasm for variety and novelty, and respect for everyone regardless of their differences.