Working Across Generations – Tips For Team Leaders

Over the last few years I have had MANY discussions with employers and their staff about challenges working with the “young people of today”. (Now for those of you reading who are those young people – don’t worry I will not be ranting on as you expect!)In fact there were so many discussions and so much passion in the discussion that it became obvious that I had to learn more about the so called Generation Y, or Millenials or Echo Boomers. How interesting that journey has been and continues to be!Lets set the scene, I have a business owner, a department head, a team leader, all making negative comments about their GenY employees. The sort of things I heard included they were impatient, lazy, want to be nurtured (constant feedback, immediate recognition) at work, demand workplace flexibility. They are unresponsive to motivational tactics, are motivated not only by money, but also fun and their social life, they are easily bored, have no job or brand loyalty, they focus on their life rather than work (work to live).They are slack in their appearance, from a workforce perspective: they are difficult to attract, harder to manage and are proving near impossible to retain. They are image conscious, wont automatically give respect, are materialist and demand the rationale behind any request of them (Gen WHY).So have you ever thought about why they are this way? What about this as an idea:o They have no job or company loyalty because they watched their parents work for years for an employer, working long hours, giving up family time, only to be made redundant in the down turn in the 1990′s.
o They are not only motivated by money, but also fun and their social life, because they have been told by their parents (people like you and me) to get out and have a good time – don’t spend all your time at work, get some balance!
o They are impatient because their parents always worked hard to give them things that we didn’t get. We didn’t want them to wait to save, they learned about credit cards. We have microwave ovens (that seem to take forever!) and digital cameras that don’t have film that needs to be taken completely or need to go to be developed.
o They want constant recognition at work because they are used to it at home. How good am I – ‘you are fabulous darling!’There is so much discussed about the negatives, but not a lot of us taking responsibility for the wonders we have created.But what about the other side? There are some positive aspects of this generation that need to be highlighted, to decrease these generational barriers and create a more cohesive workforce with more satisfied employers and employees. And there are plenty of positives about these individuals.
Furthermore, times are changing. Generation Y is here to stay and will be a major part of the Australian workforce. And they can be beneficial to any organisation, bringing youthful idealism and energy, a fresh view to the industry, new qualifications and a 21st century perspective to life. So really, it is time for us Baby Boomers and Gen X’s to change our paradigm and get over it!Here are some tips for modifying your behavior to get the best from your Generation Y employees:
o They really know technology, get them involved in your business to help bring you up to speed
o They are ideally placed to be key drivers of product development and sales, so ask them what they think and how they could make a difference. It could make a huge difference to your bottom line!
o They have a real entrepreneurial spirit, so can help you consider your business opportunities.
o Since they are more tolerant and accepting of differences in terms of race, gender and ethnicity, you have an opportunity to build your team differently than you may have done in the past which will add diversity and experience.
o Many of them are well traveled and will add another layer of substance and interest to your workplace.
o They are very education-minded, so are keen to have a skills development plan as part of their employment.
o Since they are concerned about environment, get them involved in developing your green credentials.
o More than any of us, they are multi-taskers and fast thinkers, so get them problem solving issues in your workplace.
o They are financially smart and will help you look at a different perspective.In general, you could consider a few of these strategies:Job variety; Feedback and rewards; Increased responsibility; Flexible work practices; Career development; Get GenY input to attract Gen Y Market; Work hard during working hours, not mediocre for 60 hours; Use their knowledge; Provide a life-work balanced workplace; If you want them to care you must care about them. Respect is not automatic; Get to know and understand them and set a strong leadership example for them to follow; Seek out Gen Y who best fit your culture, the right people versus the so-called best.So as I have already mentioned, time for us to change our ways and get on with it! (I am going to sit down with a cuppa and work out how I plan for 3 Gen Z kids!)

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