Here’s what you need to know to effectively communicate with and manage the next generation of business leaders.
“Like it or not Generation Y is changing the way we lead. By 2020, the majority of the workforce will be comprised of this generation,” says global thought leader in business storytelling Gabrielle Dolan.
“Many senior leaders comment that one of their biggest challenges is how they manage and lead this cohort.”
Often SME owners might not know how to manage and communicate with this demographic, but they need to overcome this perceived obstacle as Gen Y naturally deal with different technologies, and have an understanding of social marketing and communication, and these skills are invaluable.
Therefore it’s important to do all you can to attract prospective Gen Y employees to your company. Here’s how to encourage this productive and expanding section of the workforce, according to Dolan.
Defining your Gen Y employees
“Gen Y encompasses people born between 1980 and 1995, although some ranges include people born as late as the early 2000s,” explains Dolan.
“This label followed on from the previous generation’s description of Generation X, and while it is commonly used, this group is often also referred to as Millennials or the ‘dot-com’ generation,” she says.
Challenge and inspire a new generation
“It’s this innate sense of curiosity and their ability to question tradition that has given them the moniker ‘generation why’,” says Dolan. “With so many options available to this generation, if leaders are not providing a workplace that challenges and inspires them, they will seek to work somewhere that does.”
Remember that Gen Y is highly educated. “Gen Y is the most formally educated generation ever. Unlike previous generations, they don’t feel the need to work in an organisation for years before they ask for a change in role or promotion, or increased work/life balance. Many demand these aspects from day one and discuss their expectations during the interview process,” explains Dolan.
Be an authentic, flexible and fun leader
Gen Y doesn’t respond well to corporate jargon or inflexible leaders who know all the answers, she says. As a leader, communicate authentically in the way that you talk and the way that you act.
“Gen Y employees expect to enjoy their job,” says Dolan. “The thought of staying in a job they hate is absurd to them, and you can’t blame them. A mindset of, ‘If you’re having fun you can’t be working’ will not serve you well if you are leading this generation.”
Therefore, leaders should seek the opinions of Gen Y and involve them early in the process.
“Allowing the space to work collaboratively and flexibly with this generation can result in a win-win for both the individual and the organisation.”
If you tend to be more commanding, controlling and autocratic, try to turn your attention to flexibility rather than being overly focused on structure, she says.
And, of course, it goes without saying that not every employee in the Gen Y category will be the same.
“As with any individual employee, leaders need to respond to their various needs. However, the more leaders understand Gen Y the more they will be able to manage and lead them successfully.”