Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Gen Why?

The shelves are filled with books about Millennials (written by people born in the 50's). Internet sites have case studies on managing Gen Y. Every publication has a benefits strategy for 'a new generation of workers'.

The characteristics of Generation Y listed as:

Have we become that simple in business management that we have to categorize everyone and put an according label on them?

I have news for you: the aforementioned characteristics are not unique to Gen Y. The people who write books about Millennials possess these seemingly frowned upon points of motivation. Everyone gets impatient when company goals do not fit their pace for advancement. The best companies are able to foster a purpose driven culture that encourages people (of all generations) to carve a career path that fits their level of commitment.

So instead of criticising the young, let's focus on what companies can do to encourage them (and everyone else):
Say Thank You!
Don't Mask Your Insecurity by Regulating Others
Stop Micro Managing
Foster a Purpose Driven Environment

The Validation of Thanks
You can pay more, afford annual sabbaticals and offer free gym memberships; but if you suck the rest of the time, I am out of here. Fact: I will not need a vacation if I love my work. There is only one thing I need to love my work....to hear Thank You for my effort; every day!

We all need validation to keep us moving. We don't need our balls busted to remind us to work harder. When the purpose of motivation is positive we all strive for a common goals. When staying employed is a daily battle we compete internally, screw one another over, politic and create an environment of self-preservation.

Just a Little Patience
Let's look at the time line for High School Sports -
Year 1 - Freshman team
Year 2 - Junior Varsity
Year 3 - Varsity
Year 4 - Team Captain

With a clear cut 4 year scale, evolving into another 4 year scale (college), can you blame Millennials for being impatient when they achieve their quota their first 2 years at your company and receive no extended career track to encourage their results?

Take time to understand the scale mentioned above when managing Gen Y-ers. Help them navigate a 30 year career scale as opposed to dismissing their frustration as malcontent. Allow young people greater opportunities, allow them to fail and be willing to put YOUR butt on the line accordingly.

Leadership vs. Management
Let's look at the numbers......let's not!

If as a professional you have a system based on checks and balances that you plug people into, you serve no purpose. Anyone can look at salesforce.com to measure activity, anyone can look at a call log to see in-office time utilization and anyone can collect business cards from the fishbowl at Chilis.

Leaders take the necessary metrics for success and translate them into a personal strategy for every worker based on his/her goals. Take the activity report and help your people tell a story beyond the numbers. When asked what the purpose of filling out TPS reports might be....have an answer.....that makes sense!

I'm not frustrated..I'm just more motivated than you are
Don't tell your employees to slow down, keep up with them!

Embrace the energy of the young professionals that surround you and put a system in place that moves with them:
* Tell them the 'Why' behind directives
* Recognize their effort and help them turn time spent into results
* Let them know it is OK to laugh
* With Purpose and Intent comes Results...with results comes happiness in the workplace.

Our age matters not. We all want to see something at the end of a 12 hour shift. We all want to know that the countless hours spent in the office mean something to the world in which we live. We want to win and to be celebrated. We want to be encouraged to try, not discouraged from volunteering. We want to know you know who we are and that that is part of our company culture.

Within 7 years the people you are managing will be managing you. Think about that now and Lead accordingly.

Don't Forget to Remember!



  1. Fantastic Post, David!

    What I love the most: It takes a trend that everyone's been hearing about and living and turns it upside down.

    Great tips, fresh perspective, and very encouraging.