Managing Gen Y in the Workplace

One of the topics that I’m interested in and passionate about is Gen Y (Millennials) in the workplace. Being a Gen Yer myself, it is interesting to read about some of the qualities that I possess that seem to be the norm. It’s also been interesting to see how my fellow Gen Yers are challenging the current practices and procedures that workplaces have been doing for years. Many companies are starting to realize that Gen Y will be dominating the workplace and have started to restructure in a way that will work well with this generation.  Therefore, today’s post will discuss how to manage Gen Y.

Last month, I wrote a post about what Gen Y wants from an employer. As a refresher, the main points I made were as follows:

  • Gen Y values company culture.
  • Gen Y strives to grow professionally and wants feedback.
  • Gen Y wants workplace options.
  • Gen Y wants an employer that has integrity and makes a social impact.

Although those are only a few off of the long list of qualities that this generation hopes that their employer has, these seem to be the most common. In order for a company to know how to properly manage this generation of workers, they must know and understand these. Additionally, they must find a way to tie them into their restructured management style. Here are some tips on how to manage Gen Y effectively:

  • Show them a connection: Gen Yers know that more often than not, they are bound to leave their employers within the first few years of employment. One of the main reasons they leave is because they do not feel that the company culture (something they value) is aligned with their own personal values. To ensure you are hiring and retaining quality talent, be sure to discuss the culture and what the company has to offer. Ask the candidate what they highly regard and what would be a deal breaker down the line. Determining the connection of company offerings against candidate values can help reduce turn-over in the long run and increase employee engagement if the candidate is hired.
  • Set clear rules and expectations: Gen Yers can be extremely self-sufficient and driven; however, gray areas can hinder some of their performance. The best thing a manager can do is to let the employees know what the rules, expectations, and goals are straight out of the gate. Additionally, they should place this information in an area that is easily accessible for employees’ reference.  Having these clearly defined can help the employees know exactly what they can and cannot do, and go from there without second guessing themselves.
  • Provide useful feedback on a regular-basis: Receiving regular feedback is not just expected by Gen Y, but it is demanded. This generation of workers is focused on finding solutions and making improvements. In order to get valuable insight and discover resources to do so, they rely heavily on the feedback from their peers, clients, and managers. Making this a routine task of management can prove to have significant benefits for the organization.
  • Get your scheduling done ASAP: Gen Y is an expert at multi-tasking. They grew up in the technology era, which makes doing three things simultaneously a breeze. However, they are only able to take on this much work by learning how to schedule things properly. In order to ensure that your employees are keeping up with their abundant workload, be sure to stay on a set schedule for meetings, quotas, goals, and so on. Also, if you need to schedule something that isn’t part of the norm, try to give them a time and date as soon as possible so they can reschedule and plan accordingly.
  • Track their performance: This generation wants to know that their efforts and contributions are making a difference. They want work to be meaningful and feel like they’re doing something for a reason. One way to make them feel that way is by keeping track of their performance and incorporating those details into the regular feedback you provide. Gen Y is also goal-driven so be sure to show them how their performance ties in to their career path and goals. If necessary, give them additional mentoring in areas they need to improve. Showing that you are invested in their professional growth will help gain their commitment and trust.

Gen Y can be tricky to manage if you don’t take the time to understand how they think and why they do the things they do. In order to manage this generation effectively, managers must create an open, two-way communication with employees. Participative leadership style may be key in keeping up with them. This can help managers learn what the employees need from them in order to get the best response and performance. Lastly, please listen and try to follow through with any promises you make. Trust me; they’ll hold you to it.

More links on the subject:

Manage Gen Y and Interns.

Managing Gen Y Infograph.

NBC- Managing Gen Y Effectively.

Leadership Development for Gen Y.

7 thoughts on “Managing Gen Y in the Workplace

  1. From this post I get the feeling you think GenY is quite demanding and need to be told everything. Has the human capacity for insight and intuition been abandoned by your generation? I think not. I know a few people in thier twenties and they are very confident
    When I first entered the workplace as a young GenX I would have liked to be treated in similar ways to your descriptions above.
    There is a chance that you are confusing some traits of GenY with traits of being in your twenties.
    Though I get the multitasking point with technology, spot on!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Ben. I do agree that these characteristics aren’t true for all Gen Y individuals and that there are plenty of people in this generation that have confidence. However, most research shows that Gen Yers feel this way, especially early in their careers. They rely on the feedback not because they’re needy, but because they have a strong urge to improve themselves professionally.
      As far as your take on 20s traits being confused with Gen Y—Gen Y is composed of people in their 20s which makes it common for these traits to spill over into the workplace, whether intentional or not.
      Will these tips help all managers in every situation? Definitely not. However, I do suggest managers take time to listen to their employees. My best experience is when I had a manager ask me which management style I responded best to. I really got the most out of this situation. This could help managers know how to handle individuals that don’t fit in with these researched norms, as you had mentioned.
      Thanks again for reading!

  2. I like your ex-manager already!
    You raise a good point that the way business are run should change to incorporate the differences in people regardless of their generation.
    While at the same time you and I have been hired to do a job because of our skills, there also should be a certain amount of respect attached to that decision and space given to allow us to prove they have made a good decision.

  3. I was fortunate to serve as lead researcher on a Gen Y @ Work study in 2009. The study found that many Gen Yers were not the stereotype typically found in the media. Many did not want to climb the corporate ladder quickly and others felt that work was simply not what they expected. These findings did not surprise me.

    As you have expressed here, feedback was quite important, as it is to most of us. Furthermore feeling valued, learning new things and viewing their supervisors as a mentor were all correlated with reported job satisfaction – components we would all like to seek at work.

    As an Industrial Psychologist I find it dangerous when we make broad generalization about very, very large groups. People are individuals – plain and simple. We can learn from research, and it can help guide us, but we have to utilize common sense as well.

    We all should seek what we need at work. But, we have to do so respectfully and with a fair amount of patience. Learning how to work with our employers, to provide what we need to excel is certainly required.

    Thanks for posting Ashley!

    1. I agree with you. That’s why I loved when my manager asked me which management style would I respond to best when we had our feedback sessions. I thought that was great that she could treat me as an individual.

      I would love to hear more about your studies!

      1. I really enjoyed your post – Your manager was very wise! Some people like more guidance than others – so it is a good idea to put the cards on the table. If you go the the “Media” portion on my blog, I think an overview of the study is linked –

        I look forward to more of your posts.

  4. Pingback: Gen Y and Your Workplace (from our ‘Ask the Expert’ column in The Voice) – Human Resource Blueprints

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