By Dr. Tim Elmore
I had an unforgettable conversation with a friend recently. He employs hundreds of people and just hired some recent college graduates.
He told me he planned to see a therapist, which was a bit surprising since he is a healthy, well-adjusted company president. When asked why, he said he was unable to cope with the number of mothers accompanying their 22-year-old son or daughter on job interviews to negotiate their salary package.
Furthermore, he mentioned that one mother had returned six months after her son was hired to see why he had not received a raise yet. After all, he had shown up to work on time for six months.
Such is the new world we are entering into as executives. There is a new breed of employee walking through our front door. They are different than we are and we have a choice — either get angry or get busy discovering how to turn their potential into performance.
In a three-part series, I share the first two of eight Generation iY (I call them this because of the intense impact iTunes, iPhones, iPods, iMacs and the Internet has had on this group) traits and how to manage them in the workplace.
1. Job hopping in search of the perfect career
This generation wants a job that fits their passions and strengths. They want to explore.
What makes this noble pursuit a bit complex is that by and large, this generation doesn’t want to “pay their dues” working at the bottom of the ladder in an office until they earn a spot that fits them. This explains in part why six out of 10 graduates move home after college. They do not feel the pressure to work just to make money. They are waiting for the right job.
It also helps to explain a most confusing phenomenon to employers: adulthood now begins at 26, not 18. They want to use their twenties to explore not settle.
What can we do? Build an authentic relationship and earn your right to give them counsel. Then, help them simplify their lives and goals.
Help them to be realistic in their expectations. Let me remind you that Generation X struggled with authority. Generation iY struggles with reality. Help them to focus, to discover what their true passions are and weed out some of the search. Offer them some variety while they are working in your organization.
2. Waves of depression coming and going
I am concerned that few people will see this one coming. Growing up, this generation of kids was used to “getting their own way.” They have seldom heard “no” as an answer.
Mom and Dad were intent on building strong self-esteem, so they got rewarded just for participating on a team (like the little league banquets where ninth place ribbons are given out). All of this has served to make them feel like winners regardless of whether they performed well or not.
They have a high expectation of self and the speed of their climb up the corporate ladder. They have experienced little or no failure. They feel everyone is a winner.
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How will this play out on the job? Obviously, their manager may not be as intent on safe guarding their self-esteem. The moment they are reprimanded for a performance issue or low production, it may just cause them to tail spin. As they’re forced to face a setback or unglamorous work, it may be emotionally difficult.
What can we do? I recognize that someday these young people must meet up with reality, and I’m not suggesting we dote on them as we lead them.
We will, however, need to be prepared to play the role of coach, not just a supervisor, to this new generation of workers. Treat them as young leaders you are mentoring. Let them know you believe in them and have their best interests in mind.
Celebrate when they perform well, before launching into the improvements they need to make in their work. Give them short-term commitments, if possible, to put some “wins” under their belts. I believe this generation will respond well to “bad news” when this kind of relationship is established.
To conclude this first part, it is important to know that Generation iY is a “passionate” generation. They are determined to “find their passion” and devote their life to it, or should I say, part of their life.
Reports show they often reveal more than one passion and may experience multiple careers in their adult life to follow them. If they possess five passions, they may pursue five careers.
Employers who provide a multifaceted work environment have the best shot at keeping Generation iY’s focus and allegiance.
Next up tomorrow: traits three, four and five of Generation iY. For more information on leading Generation iY, visit www.generationiY.com.