Flipping the switch 7 – GenYer’s – 7 trends that affect work and 6 things you can do about it

It’s always risky to make generalizations about a demographic and the tendency to rely on stereotypes is all to tempting. But each generation is shaped by the dynamics in which it lives. Millenials have never known a world without computers. Methods of communication and choices by which that communication are possible have always been there for this group.  Here are seven trends that affect this generation include:

  1. Small computer devices – iPhones, iPods, tablets, handheld units. They may not be very familiar with large computer screens and heavy lifting computer programs.
  2. Texting over talking – connecting and communicating through devices seems to be more prevalent than fact-to-face interaction.
  3. Writing in code – texting has stunted the acquisition of writing skills. They can hammer out a lengthy message with their thumbs, writing a solidly thought out and logically paced business document may not be so simple.
  4. The emphasis in public school education on self-esteem building has succeeded. They tend to think quite well of themselves.
  5. Their parents did not really want to be authority figures. They reasoned and negotiated everything. You, their employer/leader/manager may be the first authority figure they’ve ever ran in to, literally.
  6. Last minute cramming has produced a demographic to write that term paper the week before it is due. Incremental scheduling is not the strong suite of this generation.
  7. Company loyalty is a sucker’s game. They’re making their way to a dream job and dream life and you are just a stepping stone along the way.

So, what do you need to consider if you’re going to motivate this demographic?

Tighten up on the scheduling. You don’t want surprises at a deadline and they don’t want poor performance reviews. Plan more incremental steps and be certain to monitor progress. Encourage and compliment when each step is reached.

Be clear as crystal about your expectations and their responsibility in reaching it. Assume nothing, explain everything.

This generation, perhaps more than previous ones see their job as a continuation of their education. See #7 above. They are on their way somewhere and your company or organization holds experience they deem necessary to get there. Mentor and train, but realize they probably won’t stay.

If a team culture works for your company or organization, exploit it with Gen Yer’s. Loyalty to teams is often stronger and more enduring than to the company at large.

Use in-between steps and titles to keep enthusiasm higher. Develop smaller indicators of progress. Gen Yer’s interpret this as progress. Think video game here, finding the little trap doors gets you into the next level.

Consider if you can offer flexible work schedules. Let performance standards be measured and rewarded by objectives reached rather than just hours worked. A 2012 study of the generation by Griffith Insurance Education Foundation discovered that millennials will sacrifice pay for increased vacation time and the ability to work outside the office.

Finally, here is a surprising facet of this generation. A comprehensive study by the Pew Research Center in 2010 found that millennials place a higher priority on helping people in need (21%) than having a high-paying career (15%). Dan Epstein, the CEO of business consultancy ReSource Pro who has a staff comprised of 90% millennials, says allowing employees to form committees and use company resources or time to organize their causes meets their desire for social consciousness. Whether it’s weekends with Habitat for Humanity or time off to run in charity marathons, the company’s encouragement helps them feel good about the company. “In order to tap into their creative energy,” Epstein says, “we need to be respectful of the things they care about.” (Jenna Goudreau, Forbes Staff)

You probably noticed that many of the things that motivate Gen Yer’s motive Gen Xer’s and Boomers. As much as things change, they stay the same. It is awareness of and appreciation for the nuances and subtleties, the majors and the minors of any group and every individual that make leaders and managers better motivators.

Next week, I tackle the prickly topic of manipulation. See you then.


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