Who is Gen Y and Why Should You Care

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Everyone wants to know how to effectively work with Gen Y. But before you can even work with them effectively, you need to understand them. Here are some fast facts:

•    Gen Y was born between 1982-2002. In comparison, Baby Boomers were born between 1943-1960 and Gen X was born between 1961-1981.

•    The Gen Y generation is bigger than the Baby Boomer generation, by as much as 2 million people.

•    Gen Y is also known as the Millennial generation, because the first Gen Y’ers graduated from high school in 2000.

•    Gen Y was influenced by 9/11, Enron and Bill Clinton. They are hopeful, social, outspoken, goal orientated, inclusive, inquisitive and ambitious.

•    They grew up with computers so understand technology intuitively and multi-task well. Consequently, they are connected, visual and prefer working interactively.

•    They value work-life balance, making a difference in the world, developing their skills, honesty, integrity and recognition for their work.

•    They expect to be developed in their job. Even if you can’t promote them, they expect you to give them the skills they need for their next job. As one Gen Y explained to me, “Why should I invest my time in a company if they’re not going to invest in improving my skills?”

Many companies complain about Gen Y and how hard it is to retain them. I get that. Every generation has a challenge working with the next generation. However, giving them everything they want is not the solution. So what does a good leader do to get the most out of Gen Y?

Be clear with them
From day one, be sure to discuss their role, your expectations and their 3, 6, 9 and 12 month goals. Then be sure to give them immediate feedback, good and bad. They respond well to honest, transparent comments, so let them know sooner than later how they’re doing on the job.

Coach them
Gen Y has been coached since they could walk…in soccer, hockey and other team sports. They are used to having a coach work with them. So hone your coaching skills and ask them questions to get their input. They will be much more involved and ready to improve if they are part of the solution.

Create a mentoring program
Gen Y responds well to elders, as many were very involved with their grandparents as children. Create a mentor program for them, so they have another leader to go to with their problems. This not only helps you, but it also helps them access different resources at different times.

Develop their skills
This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Allowing them to work with different teams or on different projects will improve their skills and make them more loyal to your organization.

Be open minded

Don’t be surprised when a Gen Y asks you “why” for the 10th time in an hour. This may seem disrespectful to Baby Boomers, but Gen  just wants to understand the goal to see if they can improve it with the connectivity and technology. So be open-minded with them; explain the desired outcome and let them try to find a new solution. It’ll keep them motivated, and may save you time and resources.

Make it fun
Gen Y thrives on fun. Not cheesy fun. Real fun! So get their input on how to make the office more fun. You’ll be surprised at what they come up with.

Gen Y gets a lot of bad press; many people ask why they even have to work with Gen Y. The bottom line is that these young professionals are here to stay; their sheer size alone will revolutionize how businesses operate. So take some time and get to know them. They’re a lot more fun and energizing than most people think! And that energy may just help you take your company to the next level of success.

These are just a few of my top tips on how to get the best out of Gen Y. For more ideas, feel free to ask me about my workshops, talks and latest research.

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