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Managing Generation y: Global Citizens Born in the Late Seventies and Early Eighties

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Here come the members of the fourteenth American generation. They're self-confident and optimistic. Independent and goal-oriented. Masters of the Internet and PC. Young adults who believe education is cool, integrity is admirable, and parents are role models. They're the 29 million young workers whose presence will continue to grow in the workforce over the next decade.Managing Generation Y is for anyone who wants to become the employer of choice for this cohort of young adults born 1978 and after. Learn what to expect from Y’ers, as well as what they expect from you. Discover the Gen Y traits that pose the greatest challenges to Manager's, as well as the best practices you can implement now to keep these upbeat, techno-savvy workers focused and motivated.

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Who Is Generation Y?

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Managing GENERATION Y

movies. Then, in the late ’90s, they were implicated as a disturbed and violent generation when the school shootings at Paducah, Littleton, Springfield, and Conyers grabbed the headlines.

Gen Yers didn’t need the atom bomb or nuclear proliferation to feel that the world was an uncertain, scary place. They didn’t need a Second World War or a Korea or a Vietnam to feel terrified. Their “war” was fought on native soil. Their “enemy” appeared in their homes, in their neighborhoods, on their playgrounds: in adults who sought to abuse them; in schoolmates who might suddenly shoot them.

Graphic news stories present Gen Yers as a scary group of teens driven by adult desires, problems, and weapons, but without the faculties to cope. Is this the reality, though?

Robert Blum, head of the adolescent health program at the University of Minnesota, assures us that it is not: We might expect Gen Y to be “a profoundly violent generation. But it’s not there.”

It’s not there. The fact is, the majority of Gen Yers are coping quite well, thank you. Moreover, they’ve made great strides since their elder siblings made it through the teen years. Look at the evidence:

 

What Can Managers Expect from Generation Y?

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Managing GENERATION Y

“matter of fact.” As we will see later, this links up well with the Gen Y attraction to teamwork.

➥ Gen Yers want technology—and everything else—right now. Gen Xers are in a hurry, no doubt; they want to know what you have to offer them next week. But Gen Yers want to know what you have to offer them right now.

Remember, whereas Gen X grew up witnessing

Moore’s Law—“Technology doubles every two years”—in action, by the time Gen Y was entering its teenage years, technology was beginning to outpace that law. Most Gen Yers have been using computers since preschool and can dazzle the greatest techies of Gen X; with that skill comes an expectation of immediacy.

➥ Gen Yers want infinitely thrilling opportunities.

While Gen X thrives on new experience, Gen Y demands thrill—and, as we will see, not just the

“extreme sports” brand of thrill. Because of many factors in their upbringing, Gen Yers are natural entrepreneurs, eager for responsibility and attuned to innovation.

In many ways, Gen Y is like Gen X on fast forward with self-esteem. Understanding these characteristics, and the challenges they pose, will you give the edge in learning how to manage Gen Y.

 

How Not to Manage Generation Y: The Seven Traits of the Worst Managers

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Managing GENERATION Y

pictures. She’d been ready as ever with her rationale against that: “Listen, kid, you’re just here for the summer.

If I did it for you, I’d have to do it for all the interns.”

He could be persistent though, especially about having coffee or lunch together so he could “ask a bunch of questions I’ve been keeping in a notebook.” Well, who had the time for that? And he didn’t “get” the message at all. When he told her he wanted feedback about what he did right as well as what he did wrong, she said for what felt like the hundredth time, “Give me a break. I’ve told you, this is just an internship.”

Now, six weeks into his internship, Jim was delivering just as Marci had expected. She had to keep on his back to get the smallest results, all the while deflecting those endless questions and holding the reins on his irritating enthusiasm. But this time! Marci’s anger seethed behind her grit teeth as she reached his desk. For a moment she just glared at him.

“Jim, you blew it again,” she shot out. “I told you to add up the claims figures in each column with a calculator and type them out on a separate sheet in column form so I could insert them in my monthly report.”

 

The Fourteenth Generation’s Fourteen Expectations

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Managing GENERATION Y

them, too, because usually their manager wore casual business attire.

All this was part of Don’s plan to deal with an order volume that he’d known would be exceptionally high today.

Rather than let his crew drown in the overwhelm, he wanted to make the work fun and challenging. So there he was, honking the truck’s horn, asking for the whereabouts of the newest inventory, and trying to meet the time and accuracy standards printed on each order.

Don had tied significant bonuses to the crew’s ability to exceed those standards. He also had recently helped redesign the facility’s layout and update the motorized equipment, and so workers were well aware of his commitment to help them beat their goals.

That morning, Don stopped only to coach a new worker on forklift maneuvering, to congratulate his newest supervisor on finishing a fantastic project the day before, and to stock up on the filtered water he had ordered delivered to strategic points throughout the area. Since air conditioning was impossible in such a large space, workers were issued sports bottles and encouraged to take time out to keep themselves hydrated during the heat wave.

 

Best Practices to Meet the Fourteen Expectations

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Managing GENERATION Y

THE EXPECTATIONS AND BEST PRACTICES

Meeting Expectation 1

Provide Challenging Work That Really Matters

• Educate your young workforce not only about the contributions your products and services make to society, but also about how your organization supports its local community.

Does the organization offer employees paid time off to do volunteer work? Does it make financial contributions to local charities? How is it supporting the environment through programs like recycling and pollution control?

• Ensure that young workers know why they are doing whatever it is they are doing.

Where does the task fit into the “big picture” or a specific goal? Even the smallest job can be positioned as contributing to a larger result. If it can’t, it appears meaningless. Why are you asking people to do it?

• Offer team members opportunities to be problemsolvers and innovators by asking them at every team meeting:

— What are we doing well?

— What are we doing not so well?

— How can we do this better?

 

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