But why should you be concerned? As we speak there are sixty year old employees working side by side with the twenty somethings. The generational transition between the Millennials and those who are currently in the work force is a dramatic one. For many workers in management as a Generation Y it can be awkward for them to manage older employees since they are so much younger. 22 year old employees report lying about their age to command respect from their colleagues who are 2-3 decades older.
Successful companies are adapting their management styles in order to meet the needs of these new employees.
Let’s get down to business
- Millennials ask questions. Lots of them. For those of you who identify with the population I speak of, you know what I mean. Talking back to your parents, questioning motives, gathering information and squeezing knowledge out of every facet of life. To the older generations this can seem disrespectful. To the young whipper-snappers, this is how they generate meaningful connections and relationships in the workplace. Be as understanding as possible when dealing with questions. Even if you’ve addressed the same question until you’re blue in the face, remain patient.
- No expectation of stability. Our new worker bees are not expecting to stay in one job for very long. In fact, the average worker should expect to occupy at least 8-12 jobs in their entire lifetime. Each of these jobs being no more than 4 years in length. This means there is a higher pressure on management to train their employees with higher efficacy. Utilizing procedures that train employees to communicate effectively like the TrueColors assessment will teach Y’ers to identify the nuances of navigating their new environment.
- Don’t wake them up before noon. Studies have shown that whether we like it or not, we are hard wired genetically to be either night owls or early birds. For a progressive company this means destroying the 9-5 philosophy. 2.8 million Americans telecommute today and the number is expected to increase. Telecommuters have the convenience of developing their own schedule and this philosophy can easily be adapted for Millennials who need more coddling in the daily scheduling department. Work load may not be the same every day. Try balancing out your hours or allowing your workers to set their own deadlines for projects. Working together one on one is the best way to create harmony with your boss.
- The fine line between work and play is now even finer. Expectations of flexibility on the job is at an all time high. Did someone say more vacation time? Yes, and sprinkling the hours of the day with variable productivity. Growing up with technology in hand created an expectation of instant gratifications in the workplace and with project feedback. Next time your team completes a project, respond as quickly as possible with a pat on the back or ideas for improvement. Immediate progress reports help to keep Y’ers on track.
- Cut the fat out of everything. Every aspect of the Gen Y work day is centered around doing only the most pertinent tasks. When efficiency is the name of the game, you’ll find that long and drawn out procedural strategic sessions will become more focused on getting the information necessary to proceed, then off to detox before beginning on the project. Encourage Y’ers to strive for the efficiency they crave.
The future is filled with flexible work schedules, open communication, creative thinking and employee empowerment at all levels. It’s no wonder that companies like Apple and Google are so successful. Their models of business break free from the chains of bureaucracy by adopting a model that goes from the ground up. It values the opinions of people who seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things. How many good ideas are lost in other companies who do not allow all members of their team to contribute to the direction of the company?
Applying the basics
Consider these basics as an employee or employer. Especially in the current economic climate, businesses that are dynamic and scalable with their market environment are more successful. Not just by a little. Exponentially. Generation Y is the future of corporate America and the good news is, they are very talented. Learning how to direct the skills of these new workers from both sides of the spectrum will be the single most important factor to success from 2011, and beyond.