Bridging the gap: Five tips to get the best from Gen Y

Understanding Generation Y

If you’re a Gen Xer or Baby Boomer, it’s time to understand Generation Y, born between 1977 and 1994.  There are 75 million Gen Y employees in the workforce.  Sixty million Baby Boomers are going to exit the workforce in the next three years, and Gen X – born from 1966 to 1976 – numbers about 40 million.  Gen Y is a huge up-and-coming generation that has not only a loud voice but really sees the world and specifically their work/life differently than any other generation.

To better understand Gen Y, we need to start at the beginning.  From childhood, Gen Y grew up in sports programs where everybody got a trophy.  They also grew up with technology at their fingertips.

As a result of this type of environment, Gen Y appears to be entitled, especially to Gen Xers. But the benefit of their upbringing makes them very coachable and quick to learn.
In the workplace, Gen Y is constantly looking for feedback and knowledge.  As a manager, if you can provide your Gen Y employees with leadership training and motivating projects, then you will get the most out of this group.

Five tips to help bridge the management gap for Gen Y:

1) Train Boomers on how to communicate with Gen Y electronically:  Most Gen Yers respond immediately to text messages, whereas Boomer prefers face to face interaction and phone calls.

2) Leadership and mentoring: Gen Y is hungry for knowledge and are seeking leaders to follow who will give them advice and mentoring on how to improve their skill sets and move forward in their careers.

3) Make the work meaningful. Gen Y is very passionate about making a difference in the world.

4) Stay current without being phony.  Understand the new technologies that Gen Y use not only computer technology, but also with what's going on in your industry.

5) Gen Y moves 50 percent faster on projects then Boomers. Because they are so quick and know how to find shortcuts, they appear not to be working as hard as Boomers, but often they just know how to get to job done more quickly and efficiently.

The fundamental difference in these generations is that Gen Y doesn’t see a distinction between work life and personal life. As a manager, if you can learn to speak their language and start your coaching and conversations from this perspective, you will find a much more receptive audience.  Finally, understand that Gen Y gets bored very quickly, so consider how to make their work and additional projects meaningful, creative and interesting, and you will have engaged employees.

Categories: GenXYZ, Management & Leadership