Ways to collaborate with Gen-Y at the workplace
By JOANNE LOVE
Today, a teenager with a smartphone can acquire knowledge faster than a highly educated professional at any company. There is no denying that Gen-Y (born between 1979 and 1993), is the workforce of the future.
Gen-Y are fast learners, and they are learning faster than any previous generation. They consistently challenge the notion that established methods are superior or better, and are always quick to question “why”.
They are techno-savvy, always searching for that elusive answer or solution. And if no solution fits, they will create their own solutions, as we have seen with “wonder-kid” teen Nick D’Aloisio, who recently sold his news summary app, Summly, to Yahoo for US$30mil.
With unlimited access to technology, Gen-Y are very outcome-focused in the way they approach learning and employment. They want to know why they have to do things, and what the final benefit to them will be.
The most crucial skill for today’s leader is the ability to understand how to engage and develop this newer generation and those generations that follow. This “emotional connectivity” will be the winning competitive advantage for many companies as they feel the strain of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and the disruption it has created.
It is no longer wise to adapt “survival mode” and ride it out. Today’s leaders must be able to foster the Gen-Y and their talent, for future innovation and adaption, or be left to endure a slow death.
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The three important skills you need to manage the new workforce are:
Stimulate personal development
Many leaders wrongly assume that the rapid job movement occurring with Gen-Y, is related to their sense of entitlement; if they aren’t moved up, they move out.
In reality, they see their career as an extension of their education, so when this is lacking or neglected, they quickly lose interest.
Do you allow opportunities for personal development?
Cross-generational mentoring is a great way to not only promote understanding between the generations, but research has found that Gen-Y feel greater job satisfaction, career commitment and in turn, performed better in their work.
The late Steve Jobs was mentor to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Jobs aided in Zuckerberg’s development by teaching him about leading business and management practices.
When Jobs passed away, Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page, “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”
Be responsively empathetic
Independence and autonomy has for long been the norm in the workplace, but Gen-Y who have been “coddled” by their parents, want to be part of a collective. Be ready for a workplace environment that is collaborative and supportive.
What are you doing to promote this type of environment?
Gen-Y value authenticity and honesty, so leaders must communicate in an open and transparent way, not frighten to admit when they have stuffed up.
Are you willing to accept that maybe you need to make some changes too?
Are you open to modifying your leadership style so Gen-Y can understand you better, and grow?
How you listen, question, recognise and share other people’s feelings, and give feedback has a big bearing on promoting great culture, performance and engagement.
Simon Sinek author of Leaders Eat Last, believes empathy to be the most important tool in a leader’s toolbox.
Create challenging purpose
Being very outcome-focused, Gen-Y want to add value, challenge the norm, and strive to leave their mark on the world.
These aspirations often lead to a mismatch between the company’s desire for success being based on profitability at all cost, and Gen-Y being focused on purpose and people.
Don’t get me wrong, they do support long-term success, but they value jobs, skills, and quality over emphasis on short-term profit. Gen-Y also wants structure and measured objectives.
Don’t treat Gen-Y as being naive on this topic. Is your direction and conversations focused around purpose? Apple is a great example of a purposeful company which engages staff.
Apple’s purpose is to produce well-designed products, which can be used for entertainment, or to allow engagement via tools which improve productivity. Purpose is a key driver for inspiration and innovation.
In a nutshell
Get these three skills right and Gen-Y and the generations that follow will provide a great return on your investment.
You will unlock the doors to the untapped potential of Gen-Y and create a workplace culture that will be both creative and innovative, a workplace Gen-Y will want to call home.
Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com