Monday, November 30, 2009


This isn’t an article or even a blog site where someone else is complaining about Gen Y or any generation for that matter. I refuse to be that unproductive. I look for the solutions to channeling the talent of all generations into productive and profitable workplaces. We all are a piece of a puzzle whose image is only seen when we are all placed together in the right way. That being said, how do we welcome Generation Y into the workforce with eagerness to incorporate their talent and potential?

Like every generation, there is a distinct yet common dynamic to Generation Y. They are not lazy but simply don’t like wasting time. They are not disloyal but loyal to the right cause. They aren’t addicted to technology but believe in its power to make life more enriched. They aren’t selfish but are simply looking for their place in the world. They aren’t oblivious but are looking for the answers. Essentially, they really aren’t that different but they are misunderstood. Their place in the world and workplace is yet to be determined but make no mistake they are here to stay. So let’s address how to channel their talent.

The following are 10 ways to manage Generation Y.

  1. Be Sincere – They can spot a fake a mile away, whether it is within their ranks or outside. You are not one of them and they will never see you as such. What they will see is your value if you prove it.

  2. Be Part of their Network – They hate to fail and will lose trust in you if you put them in a “sink or swim” situation. They don’t think they know it all. What they feel is that they can get the answers to it all through their networks. Be present in that network.

  3. Provide Technology – Pen and paper is as antiquated as the horse and buggy to them. They express themselves through technology. This isn’t an addiction to the technology. What it is, a strong drive to find the most efficient way of doing a task.

  4. Allow them to Explore – Tell them what you want, provide recommendations and let them explore their options. They may find a better way of doing something that was hidden by the malaise of routine that perhaps blinds the rest of us.

  5. Communicate Standards – Sure they want to explore and innovate. More importantly, they want to succeed. You hold the key to that. Coach them so they understand what is needed to succeed. Don’t take their questions as insubordinate or arrogant but as their methodology for discovering truth and meaning. Which is what they are looking for.

  6. Provide them with Feedback – They are accustomed to hearing this and frequently. There is a need to depart from the type of feedback they are use to hearing. They are not perfect and capable of anything they put their minds to, which is what they have heard from their Helicopter Parents. The truth is they aren’t perfect and there are many things they are not capable of doing (just like all of us). When the feedback is negative it needs to contain a message of hope. They don’t want to feel the discussion is going to change their career trajectory but instead helps them to achieve it.

  7. Listen to them – They have innovative and even curious ways of seeing the world. Sure sometimes curiosity kills the cat but at other times it cures a disease or changes a life. The next great idea could come from the mouths of Babes.

  8. Trust Them – Give them exciting projects and assignments that clearly demonstrate you see their value. Provide them the needed support through the process. The exposure and meaning you help them discover in their work will create an advocate in them.

  9. Take the Time to Explain – “Do it because I said so” is a management strategy that is as useful as a square wheel. Even if you were victimized by this strategy when you were trenching your way through the labor force to management, realize today that it is extremely ineffective with Generation Y.

  10. Don’t Contribute to the Gap – Everyone is out there talking about how lazy this generation is. Opinions are a dime a dozen. One’s like that are only going to create adversaries and not allies. How successful have you been in the past working with a group of adversaries?
    Generation Y is misunderstood by many managers. The evidence of this is in the turnover numbers. Millennials have the ability to instantly reshift their loyalties and change employers instantly. Be careful not to blink. You may discover as your eyes open that you have another vacancy to fill. You don’t have to fear this because solutions are available.
This is not a conclusive list in any way, shape, or form. We haven’t even discussed encouraging their desire to change the world and the use of social networks (as well as so many more). With the exception of a few tweeks specific to Generation Y, my recommendations are a strong management strategy despite its application to Generation Y. Managers should adopt these tactics to encourage all four generations too reach their potential.

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  1. Just curious, but how is this different than how to manage GenX? If I were managed with this list in mind, I think I would thrive as well. I really appreciated how you ended with this list being good for all generations and not conclusive.

  2. Thanks for your comment Girl Ink. You are absolutlely right. This list would work for all the generations with perhaps a few modifications.

    #3 is important but some generations don't put as high a value on it as Y does. #9 The depth of the explanation needs to be customized to the person's experience level.

    I too am Generation X and would be inspired by a manager who approached performance this way.

    Stay tuned for more Generation specific topics in my blog.

    Thanks again.

  3. From: Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach
    When it comes to the generations Terrence, the only approach I like is that which expects all people to give/take and learn/adapt. Those who succeed define life as learning. Diversity has always existed and those who easily learn and adapt thrive.

    I loved your opening remarks "I refuse to be unproductive complaining about generations."

  4. Kate, I agree with you 100%. I am so disappointed when authors post blogs complaining about Gen Y or Gen Y authors complaining about their predecessors. It's unproductive and only spreads the gap further. Like you, I am focused on moving forward. We're all vested in our future. Thanks for reading and commenting.