Seven Frequently Asked Questions From Those Who Manage Generation X and Generation Y

The author of this blog shares the most FAQ’s from the seminars they hold on managing Generations X and Y.

Key quote: “How do we adjust our organizational culture to Gen Y? You don’t. Your organizational culture is created by core values and behaviors. You don’t change your values for a group of people. Instead, focus on the behaviors that match the organization’s values, with Gen Y in mind.”

Read the full article here.


Download our free ebook “Y? Understanding the New Generation in the Workplace”

4 Critical Things About Millennials (Gen Y) In The Workplace

Turnover is expensive and so the better companies are at underst6anding Generation Y and creating string ties between them and Baby-boomers, the better it is for business.

Key quote: “If you own, manage or operate a company and you work with young employees, the data suggests that mentoring, creating a clear purpose for your operation and allowing a broader range of self-expression in the workplace are important for long-term retention.”

Read the full article here.


Download our free ebook “Y? Understanding the New Generation in the Workplace”

This research will challenge how you manage Gen Y workers

This article identifies three so called “myths” about Gen Y are worth reading and reflecting on along with five steps for getting the most from your gen Y workers. It rightly points out we need to assess and treat Gen Yers as individuals but that doesn’t mean there are not some general trends that are evident.

Key quote: “CEB advisory services director Aaron McEwan says employers should forget the many quasi-scientific gen Y theories and treat young people as individuals to make the most of a productive and expanding segment of the workforce. .”

Read the full article here.


Download our free ebook “Y? Understanding the New Generation in the Workplace”

Get a Brain!

One of the debates that swirl around the topic of Generation Y in the workplace is that they are still just growing up. In the same way in which the Boomer generation of hippies and radicals “grew up” and became the conservative business leaders of today, so, the argument goes, Generation Y will eventually shake off the tags of lazy, entitled, narcissistic and disloyal and become the hard working, self sacrificing corporate leaders of the future.

Leaving aside the labels, the idea that Generation Y are still growing up has some merit. Part of what we see exhibited in their behaviour are normal adolescent traits apparent in generations before them. Latest research shows that the brain does not finish its development until around age 25 and the last area to fully develop is the frontal lobe which is that part of the brain that is responsible for logic and reasoning.

Now if your brain, up until age 25, is still developing the ability to utilise logic and reasoning, what effect might that have on your ability to plan and set goals, avoid impulsive decisions based on emotion, and be mindful of the impact of one’s behaviour on the larger picture? The manager’s despairing and insulting cry to “get a brain” may not be as far from the truth as we might think!

So as employers what are we to do with our under 25’s who can so easily frustrate us with their attitudes and behaviours?

Understand and accept their cognitive limitations. Don’t be reactive, but instead be proactive. Just because a young employee does not instinctively see the relationship between their behaviour and the effect on your company, doesn’t meant they can’t have it explained to them. A wise and patient manager will take the time to explain what might be obvious to them in a way that a young Generation Y employee can understand. They will help them to set aside emotion at times and look at a situation dispassionately in a way that helps them use their emerging faculties of logic and reasoning. They will work with them in setting goals and developing plans that are realistic and coherent, and they will walk them through exactly what is required of them on the job, checking that the young employee has heard them correctly and filling in any gaps in understanding that may exist.

In conclusion let me add, that although the idea that Generation Y will eventually “grow up” has some merit, it is far from the full picture. At Y Consulting we operate out of the conviction that many of the differences in Generation Y are not developmental at all but are symptomatic of the culture in which they have grown up – a culture quite different from previous generations.

To better understand these differences download a free copy of our booklet “Y? Understanding the New Generation in the Workplace.”

Four keys to successfully employing Generation Y

In His book Y-Size Your Business, Gen Y’er Jason Ryan Dorsey says, “In my view, Gen Y’s emergence in the workforce is a huge strategic opportunity for an employer to create short -term gains as well as position themselves for a long-term competitive advantage if they know how to employ us.” Yet how many businesses are throwing up their hands in despair at their Generation Y employees and are either giving in to them or giving up with them?

Neither is a satisfactory long term solution and so at Y Consulting we have developed a series of suggested strategies in four key areas to help inspire and instruct you in getting the best out of your Generation Y staff.


1.            Recruiting

Effective employment begins with good recruitment strategies and good recruitment starts with good advertising. Advertising to Generation Y is more than conveying information – it’s conveying an impression. Scott Corrigan, director of human resources for media giant Hearst Magazines has noted correctly that “Fantastic ads not only represent the true essence of the role, but the spirit of the company, and team the job resides within. You need to have fun with it. Be interesting. Make it your own.”

Recruitment also involves knowing how to interview in ways that identify good Generation Y employees from not so good. Simply noting that they “interviewed well” is not enough. This generation lacks some of the social skills of their predecessors meaning that a great worker can make a poor impression simply because they’ve not been taught the skills of presenting themselves well at an interview.

Thirdly, recruitment of Generation Y is also about having an effective induction programme. As Bruce Tulgan has noted in Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, “Day one is the most important day. You have to plan for Gen Yers’ first day of work like you plan for your kid’s birthday party.”


2.            Retaining

Having recruited the best Generation Y employees, how do we retain them? By creating a culture so appealing to them that they will want to stay with us even if a competitor offers slightly more money. How? Firstly recognise the significance of relationships for them and create a culture that is highly relational – one where they like working because they like the people and the interaction they have with them.

Secondly, create a flexible workplace where, as much as possible, they have a say in employment and workplace conditions. The more they feel they have a say in customising their job to suit themselves, the easier it is to retain their services.

Finally, Generation Y have grown up collaborating, either in the classroom or online. Being part of a team helps retention through giving them a sense of belonging and the opportunity to use their unique skills for the greater good of the team.


3.            Managing

Generation Y presents some unique challenges when it comes to managing them. They lack the work ethic and understanding of corporate practice of older generations which can cause frustration for both parties. An effective manager of Generation Y employees will need to learn how to train them in a way that they listen and learn.

Managers will also need to look at the way they offer instruction to them. Generation Y process information a little differently from previous generations and so our instructions to them need to be tailored to meet these differences if we want these instructions followed.

Finally our management style itself needs to change from supervision to mentoring through which we communicate a desire to help our Generation Y employees be the very best they can be, thus helping them meet their employment goals while at the same time having our own company goals met.


4.            Motivating

The finally key in working with Generation Y is in understanding what motivates them. They can appear lazy and unmotivated until we find those things that really drive their motivation. The first of these is feedback. They want to know how they are doing and they want to know often. Like all of us they love positive feedback – the real skill comes in learning how to offer corrective feedback.

The second motivating factor is concerned with our willingness to consult with them. Generation Y have ideas and they want to be heard. Of course not all (or many?) of their ideas are practical but some will be. A wise business owner will create ways to let them offer solutions and will help them think through the effectiveness of what they suggest.

Finally, Generation Y are motivated by work that offers them a sense of purpose and meaning. Find the key to doing this and you might be surprised at the change you see in their attitude and output.

Misti Burmeister summarises motivation well in From Boomers to Bloggers, when she writes, “When the team’s or organization’s vision/mission is clear and each individual understands how they contribute toward accomplishing that vision/mission, the conversation is set for success. When you add demonstrating appreciation for your employees, compensating them appropriately, giving them opportunities to grow and learn, and allowing their voices to be heard, you have a recipe for success across generations.”

“Generation, (Y) Why Should I Do Anything at All?”


I laughed to myself when I overheard that quote on a “Home and Away” episode my Generation Y daughter was watching. She even smiled herself! We laugh because we recognise the element of truth to the statement, but rather than laugh in derision my laugh also contained a note of recognition of the irony contained within it. Having worked in the non profit sector for nearly 30 years I have seen young people invest hours in voluntary work for causes they believe in. This current Generation Y is no exception.  If they are inspired to do something they will do it, even if the tangible return to them personally is minimal.

When I hear the statement “Why should I do anything at all?” I don’t just think of Generation Y. I think of the baby boomers or my generation who, when challenged to understand and alter business practice to motivate and inspire Generation Y, respond with “Why should I do anything at all?”  The reason is that this generation is increasingly part of the workforce and they come to us with a different mindset or different culture because they have grown up in a different world to us. We all understand that if we are doing business in a foreign culture we must alter our practice to suit that culture. Why is it so difficult to do the same with Generation Y?

Is that to say we must defer to them and their preferences and expect all adaptability to be on our part? Certainly not! Generation Y need to be taught good employee practice. Qualities such as reliability, respect and a good work ethic are as desirable as ever and a manager has a responsibility to expect and teach these qualities.

They also have a responsibility to understand how employees are “wired” and lead in such a way as to best motivate them. Flexibility, collaboration, consultation, integrity and feedback – these are all practices that touch a positive nerve with this generation and can inspire them to perform. Here at Y Consulting we can unpack these ideas further for you, helping to make them practical strategies that succeed in inspiring this generation to work.