What is it about your Gen Y employees that makes them so hard to work with, and yet so brilliant at the same time? Why do they seem so fluid and easygoing one moment, and so resistant the next?
Let's explore the reasons Gen Y really ought to be renamed "Gen Why" and how you can understand them, and even more importantly, manage them more effectively.
Why Gen Why?
First and foremost, most of your Gen Y employees grew up having information instantly at their fingertips. Anything they wanted to know, they simply Googled and got an answer, in milliseconds.
Think about that for a moment and let that sink in.
What was it like for you growing up? When you needed to find information, did you resort to books and libraries and experts? Did this take some time?
But not for Gen Y. They grew up having practically the sum total of human knowledge available in a heartbeat.
How does this affect you?
Your Gen Y employees expect information, answers, immediately! They want to know WHY you are asking them to do things! If you can't give them an answer, they get impatient quickly.
In practical terms, this means when you manage your Gen Y employees you want to have clear, direct reasons for tasks you assign to them, and be ready to answer related questions, as they will ask. This will satisfy their drive to "know" and satiate their desire to say "no" or be resistant.
Gen Why Not?
Along with questioning what you ask them to do, your Gen Y employees also naturally have a larger view of the world, and they see greater possibilities in everything. After all, they grew up in a world where it was commonplace to interact with people from all over the world, instantly, and they have a much more global perspective than their traditional counterparts.
Therefore expect them to challenge you when you say no to their ideas, as they tend to think outside the traditional boxes.
You can mitigate resistance by actually listening to their ideas! They actually are quite brilliant and will often see trends or understand concepts way ahead of the curve.
If you are able to use their ideas, this will also instill in them the sense that they are valuable and contributing members of your workforce. This is particularly important, since this generation grew up without the deeper person-to-person connection that older generations shared, simply due to their isolation with a digital umbilical cord.
Gen Y and Fun
Finally, consider the result of growing up in a forest of blinking lights, video games, and instant information. Gen Y has a terrific sense of fun!
In many ways, you could even consider Gen Y as the "generation that never grew up." They have such a sense of competition, a need for instant gratification, and often a sense of entitlement due to their digital upbringing. Some of them never quite got done being teenagers!
Therefore the lighter, happier, and more fun you can infuse into your culture, the happier your Gen Y's will be and the better they will perform.
How about instituting a game night, or spruce up the game/rec room a little more? Build team spirit with contests, and create rewards for excellence. Although these are not new ideas, they are particularly important for your Gen Y's, who have a natural instinct for competition and fun.
Use these tips to better understand your young, savvy superstars and make the most of their talents. They are dying to show off!
"Very good. He [Mike] makes the class exciting!"
-S. Bixler, Santa Ana, CA